Finding Things in Books

I like used book stores and libraries because when you enter and look around, you get the sense that the books have been read and enjoyed before. The books almost have a kind of “history” within them. It amuses me when I open a book and find out that notes have been scribbled in the margins, or a previous reader has written a commentary on how stupid he thought the characters are. I even found one book where a spoiler was written on the first page. And of course, there are all those books that have been scribbled on by little kids. And all those books that have had pages torn out. One time, I checked Stephen King’s Insomnia out of the library, and was about midway through the book when I noticed ten pages were missing. The book was so fat I never would have noticed the ten pages were missing… and I have never picked the book back up, even though I have my own copy now.

I’ve found airplane tickets, movie tickets, shopping lists, random notes, and of course, bookmarks inside books. Buying a book in a used book store or checking one out of the library to find that it has a bookmark in it is like getting an added bonus, especially if the bookmark is really neat.

I’m guilty of leaving things in books for others to find. In my freshman year of high school, my class had to read Lord of the Flies, which I thought was an incredibly awesome novel. The copies of Lord of the Flies that were loaned to my class were beaten up and falling apart from having been used for so many semesters. there was a lot of history within those pages, mostly students writing notes in which they griped about how much they hated the book. So I wrote a note on a sheet of paper, addressed it to the next student who would pick up the book, folded it, and stuck it in the middle of the pages. I don’t remember a word the note said, but I definitely did not include any spoilers.

And that is one of the reasons why I prefer paper books to Kindles or other electronic reading devices. The sense of history. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a nerd. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Finding Things in Books

  1. I like it! When i was researching my dissertations, i was always coming across notes and scribbles in books, and it makes you wonder who else spent hours pouring over that same book, tearing their hair out with frustration!

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  2. A while ago, I took a book down from my shelf, a book I hadn’t read in years, and out fell a snapshot of my sister. She was probably around eighteen, holding an electric guitar for the first time ever, grinning, full of beans, ready for a musical career which continues to this day. What an unexpected treat.

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    1. That’s a neat find! I love finding photos in books… usually they’re ones I’ve been searching for for ages.

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  3. A very random yet interesting post. I definitely prefer to be holding a paper book and reading it rather than an e-book. As for finding things in them, I don’t think I have. However, I have on many occasions found notes of analysis by the side of the writing on pages. They must have been put there by literature students – it was quite fascinating.

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  4. I recently took a book out from the library that I am going to return unread because someone who read it used its pages as a napkin . . . leaving all sorts of disgusting food remnants behind. 😦

    But I’ve also found some cool bookmarks in books ~ including $’s!

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    1. I’ve had that happen to me before. You find all kinds of crumbs and random smears that could be chocolate… or ketchup… it’s gross.

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    2. My parents were librarians (they met when they were working in the same library), so I was raised to treat library books very carefully. I was in a restaurant a few years ago and I noticed that the woman at the next table was reading a library book and making notes in it in pencil. I had to restrain myself from going over, grabbing the book, and saying, “Madam, you don’t deserve to have this precious book! I will return it to the library myself to keep it safe from your pencil. Good day.”

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      1. It really bugs me when I see little kids tearing out pages of books and the parents don’t do anything to stop them. Grr… some people just don’t understand how to treat a book!

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  5. I love seeing what other people have underlined, especially in used books on writing. You can do the same thing with e-books, but it doesn’t feel the same.

    This post reminds me of a writing prompt I did once, where you find a letter in an old book – what does the letter say? It was a fun prompt.

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  6. Nice post Maggie. I smiled while reading your words. How nice it must be to discover these gems. And to love this doesn’t make you a nerd. But then it is alright to be one for sure.

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  7. Lovely post! 🙂
    I really enjoy finding things in books too, but I’ve never intentionally left something for others. But I have left notes and emoticons in the books I read during my education and lent them to others later.
    Anyway, what I do have is a number of books that my dad used during his education. I’ve read some of them for my studies (we don’t have the same degree, but our subjects overlap a little) and found his notes in the margins. It’s a funny feeling – he was 25 when he heft the notes I read when I was 25.

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    1. That’s neat. My dad let me have some books he used when he was in college; it’s interesting to see how similar/different we were.

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