Monday, January 23, 2012

An Ode to the Used Book

This weekend I took my husband's little girl Gracie to my favorite local used bookstore.  It's a place we both love, so whenever she's in town we try to make the trip out.  Now that Borders is closed and the closest traditional brick-and-mortar is over a half hour away, this store has become the only place outside of my own house where I can surround myself with books.

So what if they're shabby with cracked spines and yellowed pages?  I'm much more likely to find an impressive array of Sweet Valley and BSC ('80s babies know what I mean!) books in the young adult section there than at a "real" bookstore.  (Not that I'll buy them anymore.  But still, what's the harm in feeling young again?)

This visit came on the heels of a hiatus several months long, so there were some new books to peruse.  Every once in a while I came upon a book that used to belong to Gracie, and before her had belonged to me, and I would have a sudden irrational urge to buy the book back (even though I'd given it up in the first place), just to rescue it from its used book wasteland.  

And then I'd remember that it's not a wasteland at all.  A used bookstore isn't just full of used books; it's full of books that were previously owned, previously loved even, and have now been carefully traded in for someone else to discover and love, to devour their crinkled pages with a voraciousness that might rival the original owner's.  Sure, maybe the first owner traded up to bigger--or even better--books, but that's okay, because the used bookstore will set them free and offer the chance to find a new owner.  Maybe a lifetime owner this time.

So dig out and dust off those old Nancy Drew hardbacks, dog-eared but long-forgotten, and give them a shot at finding love again.  You might just make some kid's--maybe Gracie's--day.


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