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asra: (Toshiko)
[personal profile] asra
Since I have a joyously unexpected half an hour free, have some quotes from 84, Charing Cross Road. (I expect I'll watch the film soon and post about it and then you all will get sick of me posting so often.)

“I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to "I hate to read new books," and I hollered "Comrade!" to whoever owned it before me.” [she means a book by Hazlitt, jysk]

“I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages someone long gone has called my attention to.”

“It looks too new and pristine ever to have been read by anyone else, but it has been: it keeps falling open at the most delightful places as the ghost of its former owner points me to things I've never read before.”

“I don't browse in bookshops, I browse in libraries, where you can take a book home and read it, and if you like it you go to a bookshop and buy it.”

“I'll have mine [The Book-Lovers' Anthology] till the day I die - and die happy in the knowledge that I'm leaving it behind for someone else to love. I shall sprinkle pale pencil marks through it pointing out the best passages to some book-lover yet unborn.”

“I houseclean my books every spring and throw out those I’m never going to read again like I throw out clothes I’m never going to wear again. It shocks everybody. My friends are peculiar about books. They read all the best sellers, they get through them as fast as possible,I think they skip a lot. And they NEVER read anything a second time so they don’t remember a word of it a year later. But they are profoundly shocked to see me drop a book in the wastebasket or give it away. The way they look at it, you buy a book, you read it, you put it on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON’T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not?I personally can’t think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book.”


The last one is one of my favourite parts of the book. Books are not sacrosanct by definition. Mein Kampf is a book. John Keating makes his students tear out the pompous introduction to their poetry books. Some books are just meant to line wastebaskets and to soak in the oil from greasy foods.

Speaking of, a student of mine recently told me that she feels guilty buying books because of all the paper that goes into them, and that she now prefers ebooks for that reason. (She's also a vegan.) I hadn't thought of it that way. All the more reason to frequent shops with second-hand books, maybe?
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