The secret life of second-hand books

“Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book!  A message to us from the dead, – from human souls whom we never saw, who lived perhaps thousands of miles away; and yet these, on those little sheets of paper, speak to us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers.” Charles Kingsley

“Used Books” by Matthew Diffee, New Yorker

Books (I’m talking paper, not plastic) are more than words on a page. They are living, breathing memories of their authors, illustrators, publishers, printers, booksellers, readers and critics.

Even more so for second-hand books. These are not the shiny, new, best-selling books you buy at your local big box store, along with a super-sized box of raisins and a 40-pack of underwear. These are the yellow-paged, dog-eared, sometimes strange, sometimes pretty, rare and not so rare, books sold at your second-hand bookstore or the remainder bin of your local library. There they sit, sometimes for years, waiting for you to pick them up, caress their covers, turn their pages, and take them home.

This blog takes a look inside these books, at their journey through the world, and who they meet along the way. It explores our relationship with them–where we find them, read them, why we love them, hate them. In doing so, this blog aims to document the living memory of second-hand books: Lost and Found.

This blog celebrates paper, and the possibilities of digital.

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