A secondhand bookstore just opened close to where I work. Since I love books, I should be excited, right? Not quite. I don’t want to buy books anymore. I already have enough books to read in a lifetime. But, still, every now and then, I couldn’t resist. I keep adding to my collection. A bookstore nearby would further weaken my resolve.
Sometimes, I wonder, which is greater for me – the love of owning a book or the love of reading it?
I’ve books in a bookcase, most of them I haven’t touched in a while. Those that didn’t make it to the bookcase either ended up under the bed to gather dust or stuffed in boxes never to see the light of day again. These are great collections. Oh, if only I have more choices in life! I could spend quality time with them. But no, I prefer to go to work and earn a living. At the same time, it’s probably a good idea to keep them where they are. haven’t you heard of information overload? .
I knew I shouldn’t be near that bookstore, but a few of my co-workers decided to check it out during lunchtime. I felt like a smoker who wanted to quit being tempted to try one last stick. Reluctantly, I went with them lest I be branded not a team player.
Going to a used bookstore is like being transported into the past. It’s a place where people sell their unwanted books and those belonging to dead relatives. The combined smell of old paper and ink could be overwhelming to an untrained nose.
I was surprised at the collections at the bookstore. A lot of the books on the racks were worthy of any library. How could anybody discard them? Let me mention a few of the titles and see if you agree with me. They happen to be my favorites as well.
In the science fiction section, I found R Is For Rocket, Dandelion Wine, and Bradbury Speaks by Ray Bradbury. I won’t part my copies of these books for dear life.
In the literature section, I found A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger, and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. A little further to the right, I found Summing Up by Somerset Maugham, waiting to be touched. This book brought back boyhood memories. My father had this book in his collection and, I remember, reading it over and over again. I still consider it one of the finest writings in the English language.
I found books by Emily Bronte. Books? Didn’t she write only one novel? Yes, the Wuthering Heights. But you’d find it in different shapes and bindings having been published by many publishers over the years. I, myself, have 3 copies of this book – one in CD and two in book form. I also have 3 biographies of her written by different authors and her complete book of poems. As you can see, I’m in love with her. One time I took a short trip to England just to go to Haworth, West Yorkshire. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to visit the parsonage where she lived most of her life, the church where she was buried, and the moors that she loved so well. Walking around the moors for hours, I felt like Heathcliff pining for his beloved Catherine. But then I digress.
I was impressed by a large collection of self-help books. Titles of interest ranged from How To Pick Up Girls, How To Be Rich, and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, I found it amusing to see large quantities of books on sex with varying degrees of explicitness, such as, the Joy Of Sex and Sex For Dummies. It made me wonder, if sex were so natural, why would we need these books? Then, I realized that disgruntled previous owners dumped these books because the instructions therein simply didn’t work.
In the center aisle, you’d find the pocketbook romance novels section. The number of titles boggled my mind. They were more than the ones available in the literature and self-help sections combined. One distinguishing feature of these books could be found in the cover, usually that of a well-endowed woman wearing an undersized dress, being romanced by a shirtless hunk flaunting his oversized muscles. Why so many? It appears that these books, while they satisfy, are only good for one reading. Once you’re finished, that’s it. You’re ready to move on to the next one.
In the religion/philosophy section, I found several books of interest. There were books by Alan Watts with titles, such, as The Book, Tao: The Watercourse Way, Nature, Man and Woman, and Become What You Are. There were books by George Santayana, such as, The Life of Reason and The Sense Of Beauty. There were books by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, such as, The Divine Milieu, Meditations, and The Future Of Man. but, interestingly, I didn’t find a few of my favorites, such as, Essays by Baruch Spinoza, The Seven Storey Mountain and No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton, and The Varieties Of Religious Experience by William James. Nobody wanted to part with their copies, perhaps?. For sure, I want to keep mine.
The famous ‘they’ say you can read a man like a book. I may add, most definitely, by the book he likes to read.
Judging from the titles that I mentioned here, you may conclude that I’m a very complicated person. I’d like to confess that, indeed, I am. I live in the past. I belong to the dead people’s society.
So, did I buy something at the bookstore? You betcha, I did. (blush, blush) Another book on Emily Bronte.