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I like second hand books. Not because they are cheaper than the brand new ones, but because of their condition.


It pains me to start reading a new book. I realised this as I was sitting in an Exclusive Books today.  I was waiting for Flip after work, for a sushi date. I levitated around the shop, read a white greeting card that had ‘Grow old with me…the best is yet to be’ printed in bold American typewriter font, then drifted along with the Jazz music – could be old Blue Eyes crooning – to a section with baby books. Curiosity only kills cats, not 26-year old married women. 

This is where I found the pristine, just  unpacked, still white, still fragrantless copy of ‘The Fault in our stars’. I wanted to read pieces of it, after I saw the movie, but I was too scared to bend it, to flip through its pages. Next to it, ironically, was the author’s newer book Paper Towns. But, this book had been read. It had a fold on the top right corner, it had the telltale backfold of a reader opening and pressing it down, the manhandled browning of the pages, the book smell. Do books only acquire a smell after it has been touched by humans? Do books have different smells?

I love books that have been lived in before I start reading it. Perhaps it has a tear stain from that unbearably heartbreaking departure of a friend; perhaps even tears of joy? Maybe it has a little chocolate smear, because the previous owner couldn’t resist eating a chocolate while reading about her new best friend’s trials and tribulations. Will she kiss the guy or not?

Perhaps the reader soaked in a bubble bath and accidentally got a little water on the bottom. 

These are the books I love. Books that tell a story before the first page has even been turned. 

Picture: We Heart It

4 Responses to “A book with life”

  1. nez

    Hahahaha Meg I can relate. There is something liberating about second hand books. I dont feel like being extra careful when reading them and that just frees me and makes me enjoy the story lines. I also like the smell of old books, i think the combination of paper and ink causes the smell.

    Reply
  2. Claudz

    I could spend hours browsing second hand books. Looking at the stories they tell as opposed to the words they hold. Battling to find a good second hand book store.

    Reply
  3. helen

    love this: “Books that tell a story before the first page has even been turned.”

    i wholeheartedly agree!

    Reply

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