“In America such items were disparagingly referred to as “previously owned”; but this very continuity of ownership was part of their charm. A book dispensed its explanation of the world to one person, then another, and so on down the generations; different hands held the same book and drew sometimes the same, sometimes a different wisdom from it. Old books showed their age: they had fox marks the way old people had liver spots. They also smelt good â€“ even when they reeked of cigarettes and (occasionally) cigars. And many might disgorge pungent ephemera: ancient publishers’ announcements and old bookmarks – often for insurance companies or Sunlight soap.”
Julian Barnes: my life as a bibliophile
Most memorable of my second hand finds is a book by Anne Carson.Â An Autobiography of Red which in the low light of the second hand bookstore seemed pristine, but daylight raked a constellation of small indentations in the shape an arc which on closer inspection proved to be tooth marks.Â The book had clearly been used as a part of a bit.Â I say part for there is no matching lower jaw imprint on the back cover to mirror the molars and cuspids adorning the front.