I have collected books for the last 25 years, and I have to say, it is a great passion of mine. In that time, I have amassed a personal library of nearly 4,000 volumes, most of which were used books when I bought them. I don't know what it is, but I have always had an interest in used books, and I think one of the reasons for that fact is that it occurred to me that when one buys a used book, he or she is not just getting the story within the covers of the book.
One of the first things that I do whenever I buy used books is bring them home and look through the pages. Invariably, there will be little notes, or a grocery list, or whatever the case may be that tells you about the previous owner, or one of the previous owners. I have seen notes written in books reminding the reader of certain appointments and other engagements they may have. I remember on one occasion I saw a reminder to go to the dentist, right after a part in the book where one of the characters was at the dentist.
Then there are the used books that one can tell were owned by former students, because they have little messages regarding themes and other literary devices, along with sentences that are underlined with question marks underneath of them. I have to say that it amuses me when I see these things because I have been in the same boat on a number of occasions. I did almost exactly what they did, and like me, they probably worried a lot more about whatever test they were prepping for than they should have.
I remember on one occasion, I opened up one of the used books I had bought at a used book sale, and found a letter inside of an envelope in of the book. I took the note out of the envelope and read one of the most poignant love letters I have ever encountered. It was from a G.I. who was overseas and addressed to his sweetheart back home. He kept talking about how all he wanted to do was hold her in his arms one more time, and that he could not wait to get home to see her. If he ever made it home, who knows?
I have always had an interest in used books because they belonged to someone else at one point. They have been through their own adventures, because after all, everyone of us has a story to tell. They are not always published, but with used books, one can often find them.