Second Hand Books.
I love going shopping for books. I honestly felt like Kate Morton had peered into my brain when she wrote one of her characters, I think it was in The Distant Hours, specifically that the character found being in bookshops calming and revitalizing after a stressful day. Bookshops are my happy place. Browsing the shelves, breathing in that particular scent, discussing popular and little known titles with the equally obsessed staff… it is my ‘bliss’. It brings a deep sense of relief and reassurance, and a sense of joy, a pure sense of joy.
I love bookshops that are overcrowded, with stacks of books on the floor and narrow aisles, as much as I love open, clam and well ordered bookshops with sofas and comfy chairs.
Equally I love second hand bookshops, and book stall at markets. I love reading second hand books. Unlike some others, I don’t mind seeing the stains of coffee or tea on the pages, the questionable smudge of either chocolate or I-don’t-want-to-know. I like the feeling of sharing an experience with someone else, especially when reading is such a solitary event – how the words create a world in your mind can’t and won’t be exactly replicated in the mind of another.
I recently grabbed myself a whole lot of bargains. I often hunt out copies of books that I have owned before and lost through lending (I no longer lend, sadly, I just recommend). How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran is one such title, a loss I felt so deeply when the person I lent it to lost it. I found it the other day at the markets for the steal of $2! Awesome! And I love a bit of Marian Keyes for days when I’m feeling a little bit down – she never fails to cheer me up.
My husband feeds this second hand addiction, recently hunting down a massive 25 book collection of Agatha Christie novels, in a gorgeous hardback edition that I had previous commented on admiring. What a keeper! I can’t wait to read Dear Fatty by Dawn French. I have heard great things about Life after Life and find Kate Atkinson books hard to track down once they’re no longer in the new releases.
I recently discovered two Margaret Attwood books I have never read, which is like finding gold when they are second hand! And the classic (in my mind, anyway) Obernewtyn by Isobel Carmody – I read this when I was very young, and didn’t ‘get it’. All of my friends were swept up in the whole series, so I thought that finding it by chance was maybe a signal from the book gods to give it another go?
Do you like second hand books? Love the atmosphere of a bookshop? What is your favourite bookshop? Mine is The Book Connection in Dubbo, NSW. It was a haven for me in the years of living in a town that was so strange to me. I always make the effort to go back there when we visit. However, I rarely give my books to second hand shops. It’s only if I really, really didn’t like it, or didn’t finish it, that I will release a book back into the world. I treasure the memory of reading each of my books, even if I don’t love the book itself so much.