The Pleasure of Aimless Reading


| 12/23/2008 12:53:25 PM


Tags: books and publishers, reading, readers, Flaubert's Parrot, The Bounty Farmer,

used booksIt’s one of the beauties of reading used books: Sometimes, you stumble across tangible evidence of the reader that preceded you. Maybe you find their old bookmark, a dedication from a friend, a note they made to themselves in the margins of a page. These scribblings are my favorite. They register, if only briefly, what someone else was thinking while they were reading, offering a window into the normally private interface between a person and their book.

The Bounty Farmer found another reader’s musings in an old copy of Flaubert’s Parrot, but they’re not particularly illuminating. The notes match page numbers with the themes that interested this particular reader:

...101. Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.

...150. That he was obsessed with style.

...193. Art & Life.

...208. do-it-yourself enema pump. 

kim_3
1/5/2009 8:59:12 PM

I find that I give too much weight to the margin notes in used books, especially if they are neatly written, knowing the entire time that it's ridiculous because I have no idea who wrote them. I wrote a post on used bookstores on my blog and there is a picture of the wall of things found in used books over the years at Capitol Hill Books in Denver, it's hilarious http://www.bookstorepeople.com/2008/10/a-used-bookstore-education/