I lose my restraint
When I moved last March,
I brought my kiddie bookshelves with me.
The only size I have space for in my room.
They were half empty, then, because I
moved some of my books back into my
old room at my mom's place. The shelves
are full again.
I try to be discriminate
when I shop for books, but get carried away
by smells, long forgotten childrens' classics,
favorites I take out from the library often.
I like books that smell old, like
stale cigars. I like yellowed pages. I don't
mind water crinkled books. Personal notes
in the flyleaf; scrawling, illegible script.
I love the lived in looks these books acquire,
a silent history evident in their imperfections.
These are where I get my books:
Soho Discount Books
Wall St, in lower Manhattan. This haven is
3 minutes from my workplace. I try not to go
there more than once a fortnight, as I invariably
walk out with more than 5 new books. The
best part of this store is its size. It's tiny.
This is the place for weird, obscure books
that should have made it but never did;
3-in-1 hardcover editions of The Secret Garden,
The Little Princess, and Little Lord Fauntleroy,
But you have to work for some of those hardcover
- The Strand
I go to is on Fulton St, a minute's walk from
South Street Seaport; 6 from the
World Trade Center. Like Soho,
it sells publisher's seconds, these for
half price. It's big. They have $1 sections,
$3 paperbacks. They sell music, calendars.
I don't like this as much as the others, because of
its size. Messy orginazation on such a large
scale throws me off. I feel like I'll never
be able to properly sift through everything.
However, I must confess to getting lost for 5
hours there once. And this is where I bought my
dictionary for $15, a 6,000 page edition from
Random House. (It comes with short Spanish,
French, Italian, and German to English pages
in the back, and then English to all those languages).
I like to yanked my arms off, carrying that home.
- Your Library
And I don't mean
checking books out. Very often people donate
books that the library cannot use, so they
sell them for fifty cents or a dollar. This is the
best place to find books that are written on,
books with annotations in the margins, books
published in 1923. My favorite book is a copy of
Modern Poetry, full of Yeats, Frost and Dickinson.
The pages are covered in pencil script, someone's
notes, possibly a teacher's. Another treasure I have
found is a copy of For Whom The Bell Tolls, first
printing. It come with a yellowed postcard inside,
announcing Bryn Mawr's orientation day for 1923.
- Goodwill Stores
I haven't actually
done this, but am I stupid in assuming they
would be treasure troves of well-worn books? One
day I will do this.
- Yard Sales
Another fun place to find books that have soaked
up human experiences. Worn paperbacks, outdated
Encyclopedias, ragged children's books.
- The Great Grand E2 Lotto
is a great idea, a unique way of finding the
books you want plus the worn and used look.
The only hitch, of course, is that you have to return the book in the end. On the other hand, this is a terrific way
of turning your own clean books into worn
and loved relics.