Little Magics: Used Books

Guys, I just want you to know that I have TEN drafts in my jnjnkmn  yuhjjm,.  n mjnmmmnmmmnmnnnnjmmmmjjjjjjjjjjjjnm vbnm,./

Ahem.

Sorry, I spilled coffee on my keyboard and I was trying to clean it off.

ANYWAY – I was trying to say that I have ten drafts for new blog posts just sitting around, looking sad. Will I ever finish them? No one knows.

Today I really wanted to write about why I love used books. I’m currently reading a used copy of The Silmarillion which I’m pretty sure someone brought over from England. I mean, the price on the back is only listed in pounds. It’s like a cursive Q with a line through it. I don’t have that symbol on my keyboard. I would know, I just got all up the keyboard’s grill trying to get that little drip of coffee out of the tiny space between the N key and the main plastic chunk.

This used book is cool because A. England and B. crazy illustration from the 80s on the cover. As I’ve been reading, though, I’ve noticed something else.

Whoever read this book before me was one of those people who dog-ear pages. THAT’S RIGHT YOU HEARD ME.

I can’t do anything to books. It makes me squirm. I can’t dog-ear pages, I can’t write in them, I can’t even use bookmarks that might cause dents in the pages (I’m lookin’ at you, adorable magnetic neko bookmark from Japan that I ordered off the internet). The only thing I can do is highlight and I can only do that in non-fiction, made-for-learning-a-thing books. And I can only use the bright yellow highlighters because other colors bleed through the pages and that is not okay.

I’m not mad that Previous Book Owner dog-eared the pages, though. I didn’t do it, so it doesn’t bother me. It’s the act of doing that causes me stress. Though I do have a habit of breaking spines horrifically, usually because I don’t know I’m doing it. I get all into whatever I’m reading and twist my hands around when I’m holding them. Hardcovers don’t suffer, but paperbacks get a little mangled when I’m done.

In fact, I really like finding the little creases that indicate a page has been dog-eared. I’ve noticed that Previous Book Owner, whoever he or she may be, always stopped where the text breaks, even if it isn’t the end of the chapter. You know, when the scene changes so there’s an extra space between paragraphs? That kind of break.

I usually like to finish a chapter, but if it’s super long and my alarm keeps telling me it’s bedtime (curse bedtime alarms why do I torture myself thus), I will stop in the middle of a sentence if necessary. Then I might start the chapter over or at least the page, in case I’ve missed something.

I feel like I’ve gotten to know Previous Book Owner in an odd, anonymously intimate way. Reading is very personal for me. I get wholly involved in the story, emotions and all. So it’s like I get to share, here in the future, the same pages that Previous Book Owner read through and maybe the same emotions in reaction to the story. I also get to share that little moment when they pressed down the page corner to save their place. It’s a unique feeling. I’ll never know who that person was. There is simply no way for me to ever find them. And that’s part of what makes it special.

There are many little things in life that reinforce my belief in magic and this is one of them. If you have yet to experience it, go buy a used book or just rent one from the library. There’s an untold amount of people who have read a library book. And all of you will be connected by the story you shared.

(PS – I’ve decided to turn this type of post into a series called “Little Magics” in which I document the little moments of magic that I sometimes come across.)

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