I would prefer a ‘previously owned’ book over a new one in most every instance. That musty, ‘old book’ aroma is my personal gateway, like Proust and his madeleine, to a childhood of thumbing through paperbacks at garage sales and flea markets…as well as the afternoons drifted away at Beckham’s Books on Decatur Street.
There is, naturally, a slight pang of guilt in that the author will lose the royalty that they might have received from the publisher, and I do think about that, but it is overwhelmed by the weird thrill I feel at imagining who else has owned this – who else read these words, on this page. Did anyone else get to the lines:
…I’d write “Anna” in the air – backward and right to left – so that the person I was speaking to could see, and when I was on the phone I’d dial the numbers – 2, 6, 6, 2 – so the person could hear what I couldn’t, myself, say.
…and feel the same odd little rush that I did? Maybe the rush originated from those shared moments, aligned in time around these magical objects – as if each copy of every book is a little Horcrux unto itself.
Or is it really just some internal sleight-of-hand dazzling our innate yearning for personal connections, sparked by a unique turn of the phrase that seems special and magical and all of those things that make for good storytelling?
[NOTE: Apologies to Jonathan Safran Foer for buying my copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close on the cheap. If anyone is on the fence about this book, follow the link and buy a (new) copy…]