Why I love old books

My father is the reason that I love old books, and the search for old books.

It’s the thrill of the hunt: There is something very gratifying about finding an unusual or interesting book amongst the stacks in a second-hand bookstore. Or a book you’ve been trying to find for ages. And the joy of taking this little treasure home with you.

It’s the ambiance of the second-hand bookstore: The smell, the light, the history, the weightiness of these places.

It’s about getting lost in the books: For a few hours you are completely enveloped by the arms of the bookstore. No more worries. Just you and the books.

It’s the history: There is comfort in spending time with books that have been around longer than you have, and connecting with authors and book owners from days gone by.

It’s the familiarity of place, a commonality amongst peoples: Like seeking out an old friend when you are in a new city, my father sought out old bookstores wherever he travelled. And he could happily spend an entire afternoon in the stacks. It was one of his happy places. And mine too.

It helps me keep my father alive: My father died many years ago. But I carry on his love of books and bookstores. I feel like he is with me when I visit these places, and when I find a good book (especially anything nautical, which he collected) I want to hold it up and yell: “Hey dad, look at his one!”.

What do you like about second-hand bookstores?

3 comments

  1. I agree, there is something about old books that is missing from new books (or reading on the computer) and it is more than the smell! Although the smell is pretty appealing. I am sad to say that many of my favourite old bookstores are disappearing. Shopping for rare and old books on line is just not the same. I used to find some really amazingly odd books as I looked around the store. On line you only see what you are looking for – what will happen to all of those slightly obscure books that the online vendors don’t even put up on the internet? Perhaps they will truly be lost. It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I do pick a book by its cover ..and by its paper… and by its font. Many underappreciated tomes will not be advertised with a photograph by online booksellers. They only bother to include photographs of the books they think they will sell. How will I find these gems? This week, get out to your local used and rare bookseller and buy a book or two. Encourage your book club to buy their books from the used book store. Thanks to this blog for championing the old book!

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