This Friday morning, as I sat with my morning tea bracing myself for all the grim news that fills the newspapers these days, I discovered a hidden jewel in the Times of India. The excellent morning read came from none other than Jug Suraiya, who wrote about Kathmandu and the famed second hand bookstores there. He says that the advantage and value of second hand books is more, primarily because apart from the story written by the author, you often come across stories buried by the previous owner, knowingly or unknowingly. Little scribbles here and there, footnotes, words and phrases underlines, and bookmarks forgotten.
Mr.Suraiya’s column put an instant smile especially because just a week back we discovered a similar gem. A colleague brought a Jane Austen book from Blossoms (the very famous second hand book store on Church Street, Bangalore) and found a really old Gems wrapping in it. Now this was a packing which was in circulation when I was in school, so it must be easily 10-12 years old. This really was somebody’s special memory. Maybe a reward from a parent or a gift of love from a sweetheart, preserved with a lot of care over many years till it went out with the book. That wrapper made us smile and wonder about the ‘other’ stories between the pages, other than what Jane Austen wrote.
The concluding para of the article is the most remarkable:-
“So the next time you sell one of your old books imagine that I might be the next owner of it. Or that I was an earlier owner of an old book that you’ve just bought. The book will connect you and me, and we might never know it. That’s the best secret of the secret history of old books.”
Read the whole article here…
Have you even found a hidden story in a second hand book ? If not, look closely the next time.
Photo Credits : https://www.flickr.com/photos/signalstation/8290610151