One of my favorite things to do is look for books at thrift stores. It’s a bit compulsive; I start to wonder if I’m missing out on great finds if I miss a week. The majority of books I buy are used. It’s comforting to take home a used book. Perhaps it was misunderstood by the previous owner who didn’t recognize its beauty. Or perhaps the previous owner did love it but had to donate it because of a move. Either way, there is solace in giving a new home to an old book. That is the point of books, they are whole worlds that live on despite the author, publisher, owner, and reader.
This year I started thrifting before Thanksgiving. I scored some great finds for my friends’ gifts. The holidays are about spending time with people you love and respect. Giving gifts is super fun but sometimes unintentionally induces stress over what to buy and how much to spend. Giving a clean, used book is a great present that costs less than a well drink.
I just wanted to share some great reads with the people who make my life better.
I have been going through my old books to see what I find. This is the third entry; I’m slowly combing through all my books. Sometimes it’s as boring as a muni pass or a receipt for the book I’ve found it in. Sometimes it’s something more, something I’d long forgotten, something that reminds me of who I used to be, and who I used to want to be.
This project is really fun but sometimes it’s a bit sad. It reminds me of things I’d forgotten, things I meant to forget. I’m not referring to this particular entry, just this project in general. We store things away to hide them because we can’t throw them out and yet we don’t want to see them anymore. And one day we find them and all those emotions reappear just as that item has.
Neil Gaiman‘s oeuvre contains graphic novels, short stories, children’s books, novels, a movie, and most recently, a video game. Each of his worlds is unique and complete. Regardless of how fantastical his stories become and how impossible his worlds are, what always exists are strong, empathetic characters with reason and accountability. That is what holds his creations together, a sense of understanding who the characters are before Gaiman takes us into unknown worlds with fantasy creatures that cannot be fully imagined in one’s head. His language is magnificent, effortless, and efficient. The dialogue is perfection: he had a lot of practice creating concise communication to fit into those panels and word balloons.
Your book collection is a reflection of yourself, your tastes, your intellectual pursuits, your career, and your circumstances. Your books themselves can be unintentional markers of where you were or what you were doing at certain points in your life. And the items you use as placeholders instead of bookmarks can reveal another level of who you were or are. I started a new project, going through all of my books and photographing what was left in each book. I went through all the books in my apartment but have yet to go through the books in storage at my folks’ house. I started because I found two safety pins in a book. I can’t recall the book (I wish it was something appropriate like Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me but it wasn’t). Regardless, I began to wonder what else I would find in my books.
There were too many items to include in this single entry. I still have more books to add for future blog posts. It’s fun to see who I was and what I was doing when I was reading these books. It’s interesting that many of the placeholders indicate an active social life while I’m sitting at home or on the bus reading a book. I have spent so much time out and about because if I don’t get out of my room, I’ll read or worse, watch tv all night. These placeholders reveal so much more than I remember about myself. Forgotten people, phone numbers. But they also remind me of how long I’ve known some friends, and how many states we have known each other. Whether that be physical states and mental states. They also reiterate the people that I’ve been friends with for many, many years. The ones that have seen me through going to shows like the Toiletboys and going to clubs ten years ago. And the ones that accepted my being a book nerd in the midst of a raging social scene.