What’s between the covers?

Building your library

If you’re a reader, you’ve probably got books on your shelves that don’t belong to you – not because you stole them (of course not!) but because you were lent them, and never quite got round to reading them – or returning them.

In the same way, you’ve probably lost books down the years by lending them out… but then isn’t it worth losing a few novels if in the process you give someone else the gift of an idea, a story or an emotion? After all, the whole point of a library is that the books get shared by many people.

While new books are certainly a treat (a bit like that new car smell, only a lot cheaper!), nothing beats a secondhand volume.

Image courtesy of RF Studio. Published on 10 October 2019. Source: Pexels.com

Treasures within

Who knows what you might find inside? Perhaps an exotic banknote or postcard from a foreign trip taken years before? Best of all are the notes left by previous readers – these can become a sort of long-drawn-out conversation, especially if you keep the tradition alive and pass the book on again after you’ve read and enjoyed it.

We were all told at school never to write in books – but then, what do teachers know? If your secondhand book was used by a student, you’ll find all sorts of revealing notes in the margins about plot, people and even the symbolism of objects mentioned in the text. Just watch out for spoilers!

You may read an idea or an opinion that sparks something in you, so pick up your pen and reply. Of course, your answer will be read by someone different, but in that way, the book itself becomes part of the story.

Image courtesy of Taryn Elliott. Published on 20 May 2020. Source: Pexels.com

Books with more than one story…

Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to buy a secondhand book that’s been used as a travel journal, with diary entries from far-off places on the inside covers or any blank pages. Now you have two journeys to follow – the original plot of the book, and the later trip.

Travel back in time from your sofa…

Very old books have a special magic to them – just think of the many hands that have turned their pages or the different houses they have been kept in. That’s before you read the dedications that many people write at the front when giving books as a gift.

Over the years, writing styles change – very few people these days can manage the beautiful copperplate calligraphy that used to be taught in schools. Language itself has moved on – back in the day, there were no hashtags, and ‘you’ had three letters!

Reading these messages can give you a glimpse into the lives of a family you will never know, or shed light on a long-forgotten love affair or friendship. Trying to piece these stories together can be just as enthralling as what happens to the characters in the novel itself.

Image courtesy of Karolina Grabowska. Published on 23 September 2020. Source: Pexels.com

One careful famous owner

Very occasionally, you may find a book signed by the author, or which once belonged to someone notable. That could really add to the value of your secondhand book, but even without increased value, any secondhand book can be priceless.

Image courtesy of Florencia Viadana. Published on 19 July 2018. Source: Unsplash.com

If you like books, you’ll love the many secondhand books available on bidorbuy – a wonderful way to find new or old favourites at bargain prices. Plus, given that each secondhand book has its own tale to tell, you could find yourself getting more stories than you bargained for.

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