May 31, 2009


Second Hand Prose

This bit from the Guardian caught my eye - it treads on the sacred ground of lending and borrowing books. A woman had a book returned from a friend. It was destroyed. And the friend didn't seem to care.

If you're not a bookie, read no further. I would be bereft without my books. It's always been that way. At the height of our most broke, the kids knew I would still find money for books, because sometimes the library wasn't enough. There are books I want to read; there are books I need to own.

I'm currently on the hunt for a great second hand bookstore. I want a big one, where I can restock on classics, and fill out authors' backlists. I don't want the stores that only stock Danielle Steele and Clive Cussler. I want bigger. If you know one, please let me know.

I borrow books from a few people, but I'm careful to return them. I know if a book came from Arlene, because they smell ever so slightly like the wonderful incense that she burns in her house. When I open her books, it's like she's sitting there with me. Same with books from my sister Roz - she wears this really light perfume that stays with the pages. Actually, I always know if it's Roz's book - it will probably be of a certain genre we refer to as Girl in a Dumpster. You want true crime, Roz is your woman.

We have a few shelves of books at the cottage that have been there forever. It's amazing what seems like a good read lying on the dock, slightly pickled on vodka and iced tea. And yeah, I think there's even a Danielle Steele up there.

The Guardian piece bemoans people that deface books. No respect. I can't write in a book - even in school, when I owned the books, I couldn't bring myself to highlight them or mark passages. Not even in pencil. A whole English degree, not a single mark in the books. The thing is, looking back, I kind of wish I had. You can learn a lot about a person by what they write in the margins. Heck, some people live in the margins.

Anyway. Let me know of any decent second- handers. And whoever has my Katherine Hepburn biography, I need it back. Please. Can't remember where I sent it.

11 Comments:

Anonymous jmd said...

I am definitely a bookie, but have never felt the need to own books for some reason. The library suffices for me. What are some of the books you needed to own?

June 01, 2009 11:02 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

That's actually next week's column ;)

But, I seem to need tons of stuff by Larry McMurtry, John Irving, Alice Munroe, Anne Tyler, any Bronte, Orwell, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, Carol Shields, Martin Amis, Emma Donaghue, my old Shakespeare, Virginia Woolfe...some guy named Brad Smith...I give up. There's too many. I prowl the house at night, and need stuff here.

I tend to head to the library for current/trendy/beach reads, but the same way some people have a really great spice cupboard, I need books.

I have pretty lousy spices. I have some great books.

June 01, 2009 11:19 AM  
Anonymous jmd said...

There is a great on-line used book store at www.alibris.com. Found a really obscure book there for my husband for Christmas one year. You can find anything there.

June 01, 2009 11:27 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Thanks! I'll check it out...I have the best readers :)

June 01, 2009 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For used book store in Toronto I highly recommend Eliot's Bookshop
584 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON
M4Y 1Z3
416-925-0268.
Online I would recommend: http://www.abebooks.com/

June 01, 2009 1:20 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

My guess is that the books at the cottage have a faint but unmistakable musty smell to them. If I close my eyes I can see and smell them (no wait... I have not been sneaking around your cottage.) Some of my earliest memories (sober, anyway) are of the sweet smell of old, musty books. Like the smell of my mom's arms around me when something had gone horribly wrong in my world, that smell of old books would convert panic to calm, yin to yang, brussel sprouts to ice cream.

Our school has used book sales twice a year and I have found some of the most intriguing books at them. I think the lady Lucy lent her book to probably dropped off all her junk there, too.

Incidentally... you weren't at the airport late Friday afternoon, were you?

June 01, 2009 4:26 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

A tragic sign of the times is that I now have a file on my iPod where I put the names of the potential felons whom I have lent stuff to and what irreplaceable item I have lent them.

Incidentally, the title of this entry is just short of genius. But remember... a second hand rose has fewer thorns.

June 01, 2009 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all the way in Guelph, but I recommend Macondo Books. Well worth the drive, sounds exactly what you're looking for Lorraine.

June 03, 2009 2:54 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Thanks for these, everyone.

Sounds like summer drives are going to end in books :)

June 03, 2009 7:06 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Oh, and not me at the airport.

June 03, 2009 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a nice used book store, hidden in the corner, behind Denningers in Bronte. All the books seemed in very good shape so I think the owner has high standards. Mostly priced at 50% off.
And then there is book depot in St Catherines. The ultimate value in new book buying. see bookdepot.ca

June 09, 2009 10:53 PM  

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