Friday, December 19, 2014


Many of the books in my library were bought from used bookstores or library sales. A lot of them contain notes in the margins from the previous owner. Sometimes, the notes are better than the book. But my favorite thing to do is to figure out as much as I can about the person who used to own the book.

As I write this, I am reading THE WAY OF ALL FLESH by Samuel Butler. I like the message, but it's a book I just can't seem to get into. I also don't think I'd be able to get along with the person who left his or her notes for me to find. Let me tell you what I can gather from this person.

This book was read for class by a person who went to college in the late 'Sixties. I know this because on the inside cover of the book, it says SEMESTER 1 67-68. I'm going to deduce that it was college reading because I don't see this book being assigned to a high school student.

The previous owner was probably a man, since the handwriting is a bit spidery, and he was probably right-handed, due to the slant of the writing.

He did not like this book at all. After some chapters, he has written the word STOP, to remind him that he doesn't have to read any further for the next class discussion. He also takes very few notes. The passages he underlines aren't particularly interesting, indicating that he might have underlined them just to show he actually opened the book.

I am certain that a fellow student helped him with this book, because later on I see someone else's handwriting, and the insight is a lot more interesting than earlier in the book. I also believe that this person was a woman, considering the enlarged, sweeping lettering.

Lastly, the previous owner had no respect for books. On the very last page of this book, he has written down a math problem, clearly regarding the pages as nothing more than scratch paper.

Am I the only one who has this habit? I can't be. There are a lot of readers who follow my posts. Anyone else want to share their own Sherlock Holmes-like investigations?

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