I love used books for many reasons, including the thrift factor; I own way too many books and justify most of the purchases by knowing that I’ve paid a lot less by buying secondhand. I also love objects with history, and used books are a fascinating example because they often beg so many questions. My favorite experience with books that belonged to someone else before me is finding a personal inscription inside the front cover, and I always wonder about the people who gave the books and the people who received them (who doesn’t?!). Sometimes I invent occasions for the giving if those aren’t stated in the inscriptions; sometimes I invent character traits for the people involved in the interchange or reasons that the giver chose that particular book for that particular recipient.
(Side note: the best thing I ever found in a used book (it was a hardback copy of The Other by Thomas Tryon, a reading recommendation from my grandmother) was a certificate of insurance for Treva Flint’s contact lenses from 1971 to 1972, typed with a typewriter. I developed a whole storyline about Treva after Googling her name to no avail, and I’m sure you’re glad to hear that she is alive and well in the infrastructure of my imagination. Photo of the artifact is featured above!)
My exquisite friend, Ellen, a creative mind and talented writer, has joined me in this project we’re calling Inscription Fiction, and so far we’ve collaborated on two installments. PLEASE send me photographs of inscriptions you find in books, and be sure to include the book’s title and/or front cover image and any other info that may serve to inspire! xoxox