I love books, and I love bookstores. But most of all, I love secondhand bookstores*. No, it’s not because of the smell of old books, like people keep saying. Neither is it their easy-on-your-pockets nature, although it is one of the major attractions. Mostly, I love shops that sell secondhand books because browsing through them feels like treasure-hunting!
Actual bookstores organize books by category and alphabetical order and popularity and age group. Of course, that is to be appreciated in general, and be thankful for when you’re looking for that one A.R.R.R. Roberts spoof you’ve wanted to read for ages specifically. But plowing through the haphazard piles and rows and stacks of used books, arranged in no particular order of genre or author or price, is entirely another adventure. For some reason, it reminds me of the few treasure hunts my brother and I had for our birthdays. You dive in, first get a bird’s eye-view of everything, and then search all the corners and hidey-holes for the treasure. And then the next one, and the next. The search itself is more fun, is much more exciting than the treasure itself, or even the satisfaction of having found it.
And you never know what you’re going to find. You might go in with a clear mind and a list of the books you are looking for; and you might find one, or all, or a few, or even none of them; but you never leave the second-hand store empty-handed. At least I never do. There are always five other books that hold my interest, and always one that I just have to buy. It doesn’t matter that I have to study for the course I’m doing, or that I already have those three books I’ve yet to start, or that I really won’t have all that time to read so many books, or that I’m already in the middle of–simultaneously, you could say–two library books, three ebooks and one of my own paperbacks; I always end up buying a couple of books more from such places.
Visiting a regular bookstore is an adventure for sure, but browsing a used-books store is like an extreme action adventure extraordinaire!
*By ‘secondhand bookstores’ I mean stores that sell second-hand books, and not bookstores that are second-hand. Just so we’re clear.