Tag Archives: Thrift shops

The accidental charm of used bookstores

I love used bookstores. I always have. It’s actually difficult for me to fork over money for a brand new (unused) book. I think this has to do with my childhood. Growing up, we were very poor and had to shop at thrift stores and second hand stores.

I remember using the money I made from baby sitting jobs to buy a stack of used books at the local D.A.V. Thrift Store (Disabled American Veterans). Reading was how me and my sisters spent our summers.

Even though I’m an adult who makes a decent living, I still enjoy shopping in used bookshops. One of my favorites is located in Denver, near my sister’s home. When I visited her in May, I made a couple trips to this store and bought about half a dozen books. What a thrill!

On my book-buying spree in Denver, something funny happened. Not only did I find some great books, but I found a few things hidden or left in the books. The donors must have been in a hurry when they made their donations. Clearly, they didn’t take the time to leaf through the pages to ensure the books were clean and artifact-free.

Here’s what I found in the books I bought:

In The Book of Ruth, I found a photograph of a woman dressed as Albert Einstein. When I stumbled upon the photo, it startled me. I wasn’t expecting to see Albert’s face.

I’ll bet the woman who owned The Book of Ruth dressed as Albert Einstein for Halloween. She looks quite convincing, but her eyes and lips give her away.

In Under the Tuscan Sun, I found a receipt. It was probably used as a bookmark. Now I know that the original owner purchased the book at Borders Books in Littleton, Colorado on May 29, 2003. S/he paid $15.70. Seven years later, I paid $1.99 for it! Talk about a bargain! 😉

Finding the original receipt felt a bit like finding an important historical document that no one knew existed. I found a record of a transaction made by a stranger who read this exact book. It’s kind of intriguing.

In On Mexican Time: a New Life in San Miguel, someone left behind a postcard featuring a painting by Mark Rothko. I love his work. I have a framed print by Rothko in my home. Upon finding the postcard, I felt an instant connection with whoever owned this book. I removed the postcard and it’s now pinned to my bulletin board.

In Men, Women, and Relationships, I found a dollar bill. On the dollar bill there was a message written in ink. It said: “Don, read this or else.”

I wonder what happened to this couple? Do you suppose Don read the book and learned some tips on how to communicate better with the woman who defaces U.S. currency? Part of me thinks that since the dollar was still in the book, Don never bothered with it.

This could make a great story. I wish I had some killer scriptwriting skills. 😉