Does it get any better than this (creaturely-speaking)… a Mother’s Day drive away from the city after having had a lovely lunch, and coming upon a “Book Barn”. Yes, one of those humongous venues filled with second-hand books; the kind of place that would take months to properly and lovingly investigate.
Hubby proferred a weak, “take your time”, bless his heart, which I know from experience means approximately fifteen minutes. Generally speaking, when deposited in a store by my husband, after fifteen minutes I either turn my head and find his body splayed up against the window, tapping emphatically on his watch, or I spot him lumbering through the store with a mixed air of intense anguish/fear as he hunts me down. So I scrambled around and within the allotted “take your time”, ferretted out the following (all hardcover), for a grand total of $6.00 :
- Thomas Hardy’s “Tess D’Urberville” (yes, in French)
- “The Prophet”, by Kahlil Gibran
- A book of poems by D.H. Lawrence entitled “Pansies”, and I’m pretty sure it’s a 1st edition
- “The Oxford Book of American Verse”
- “Madame Bovary”, by Gustave Flaubert (front and back covers are floral, which leaves me wondering whether it was like that originally or did a certain Mrs. R. [previous owner, 1945] do that herself with wallpaper?) In any case, I’m leaving it, because it’s pretty…
- A 1943 Random House edition of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”, illustrated with wood engravings; the front and back covers have Heathcliff leaning up against a very scary-looking tree as he gazes skyward.
One of the things I like best about second-hand books is that you never know what you’ll find inside. I always leave that until I get home, because it’s such a thrill for me when I discover something and I don’t like to alarm the salespeople. On this occasion I discovered a piece of paper inside Gibran’s “The Prophet” – narrow pale-blue paper, about the width of a large bookmark, on which was written a grocery list, probably that of Mr. or Mrs. M. [previous owners, 1971]. The list was so healthy (tomatoes, Spanish onions, turnips, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, squash, peas, beans, carrots and cucumbers). Oh, doesn’t that sound like a heavenly summer grocery list? Now, it has just occurred to me that this might not have been a grocery list – it might have been a list of things they were going to plant in their garden. Heavenlier and heavenlier.
Several years ago I purchased a second-hand copy of St. Teresa of Avila’s “Selected Writings”, and inside I found a two-page old-fashioned typewritten synopsis of all her works, with concise comments about each. But my absolute favourite find was when, shortly after I had begun blogging, I happened upon a second-hand copy of Thomas Merton’s biography by Michael Mott. Inside, to my delight, was the business card of a seamstress, and in beautiful italics the words: Especially for You, by Gabrielle. Of course it would have been even better if it had said “Especially for You, Gabrielle”, but it didn’t matter. I am so easily pleased. Hurried, but easily pleased. 🙂