Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mysteries of the Second Hand Books.

I know some people who wouldn't dream of buying a second hand book, to be honest i can't really understand that mentality! Although i love the smell of new books etc. i equally i love second hand books cause often they have a history (and well they're cheaper too).

For instance, I remember sitting in the University Library in my first year of college, reading Popper's book on falsifibility (a very wornout torn edition with lots of underlining) when i saw a 'conversation' in the margins which went on for several pages - i found it was brilliant, although it was all mundane - i could imagine these two people writing together in the margins - and then near the end of this conversation - another writer (written at a later date) chimed in, thanking them for the entertaining break from Popper. I was very tempted to add similar sentiments, because although it was all written at different times - we were all bonding over popper!

Similarly i remember finding the title of one of my favourite muse songs in one of the toilets in university, i wrote the next lyric underneath. few days latter i returned to the same cubicle - and the next lyric of the song was written. this continued for a while till someone bleeched the writing away, but it was such mad fun, because i'd often be wondering who my fellow muser was (i'd say i sound insane i know).

Apart from my vandalising ways and back to the point of this post, theres an excellent bookshop in Dublin called chapters - which offers both used and new books. I love wandering the shelves of the second hand section cause you really don't know what you might happen on. . .

So, a few days ago i was wondering the poetry section and found two volumnes (nice and thick) of poetry - i bought them for an amazing price and went on my merry way. Sitting on the train i opened them both and realised that these two very different poetry books (one '1000poems' and the other post-modern) both had inscriptions.

The '1000 poems' one is the most intriquing though - its not a 'happy birthday' note but a very personal christmas note - asking the reciever to love themselves and to think of the person who wrote the note everytime the open the book. Its signed but the person its meant for is never named. all the top says is 'Dublin, '98 and the signed name is definitely not irish and the written english is slightly broken.
Then on the next page a poem is written 'the spirit singer' by Mark Collins in the same hand writing with sections underlined for emphasis.

Of course my imagination goes into overdrive, imagining that she had broken up with this boy who needed to be reassured, or maybe it was for a friend who was depressed? Between the wording of the note and the poem itself, it was aimed at trying to help someone through a difficult patch. Looking at the poem, definitely it must be to a lover, with "drifting forth as one we lay" underlined, i imagine that maybe shes returning home and leaving someone behind this as a token? The poem is written on the title page - and she has crossed the last 0 out so it now says 1001 poems.

So, i've just googled 'Mark Collins' and 'The Spirit Singer' - and theres nothing. No poet named Mark Collins either, which means that Mark might be the person this is addressed to and maybe an aspiring poet back in 1998? Its a beautiful poem, i hope he hasn't given up on poetry if this is the case.

The second inscription is interesting as well, dated Christmans 2008. From a 'two time winner of the ''poetry aloud'' competition (which after google is a secondary school competition in ireland for spoken poetry). Its says 'we're never to old for poems or fudge magnets - enjoy these words of sense'. I think the poetry aloud competition is quite new - and the handwriting is definitely an adults. Googled - found nothing so maybe its ironical?

aw enough Nancy Drew - i'm meant to be working on my proposal and here i am procrastinating precious time away!!

Personally though i'd love a present that was so personal and loving (and a good read). Yet, how does something so meaningful and touching end up in a second hand book shop?? Maybe i'm way too sentimental, but even if i fell out without someone i think i would hold onto it (or at least black it out before reselling).


Diana Paz said...

Oh I adore second-hand book shops. I'm always on the lookout for out-of-print titles of my old favorites, or even second copies of books I love so I can give them to friends with a friendly, "It's an extra copy so if you like it, keep it!"

The Popper conversation sounds great, but even better is your lyrics game in the bathroom! Of course my imagination is going on overdrive...who is this person? What more do you two have in common?

The poetry book made me a little sad... that person had put all that thought into the inscription but the receiver must not have felt the connection anymore.

Vithushan said...

tis been a while since i ventured forth unto your blog.

Glad you are keeping the chronicle going. More upbeat that the black/purple colour scheme is prevalent!

hope all is well.

Clare C. Greenstreet said...

I love second hand books. There's something about them that reminds me of when I was young and getting books out of the local library.

Casey McCormick said...

I have an odd little collection of vintage books, mostly 1800s etiquette books and classics. One etiquette book is full of little news clippings and notes and such about the family. I spent hours trying to research the family and trying to figure out why certain pages are marked with certain things.

I found a family member to the owner of the book on a genealogy site and have considered contacting them to see if they're interested in having the book, but I haven't been able to bring myself to part with it. One of these days...

I have another very old Anglo-Saxon grammar book that is completely marked up by the old owner. Love it.

Anyway, I have a weakness for old books with bits of personalized history and mystery.

The Sesquipedalian said...

Ooh, I love it when a book takes on a life of its own. It brings out the archaeologist in me and makes me want to dig up all the secrets of its previous lives.

Emily Cross said...

Thanks for all the comments - nice to know i'm not the only second hand bibliophile out there :D

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