The rest of the family will probably read this and call me a whinger. But I feel that as the oldest child, it is my divine right to own new clothes so that I can pass them down to my brother. I wasn’t allowed to see M rated films until I was 15. The trade-off is new clothes.
But no. Mum and Dad got all of my clothes from the Websdales, who had kids a bit older than I was.
But that’s not why I called this post second-hand.
The highlight of any holiday for me has been going to a new town and finding their second-hand bookshop. Second-hand books are God’s gift to readers and the owners of these shops are angels in disguise. There is nothing as satisfying as the smell of thousands of musty old books stacked on top of each other. The dust shifts as you move through the store and the light is only barely good enough to see by. There are books stacked on top of books. Shelves with two layers of books. Staircases and hidden nooks with undiscovered piles of literary treasures.
I have a lot of new books. I have quite a number of e-books. But my bookshelves at home are made up primarily of books from the second-hand bookshop.
I’m pretty sure most of the Biggles books I read came from the second-hand bookstore. Almost all of my Stephen King collection. My Tom Holts and Dean Koontzs. There is a rush involved in searching a bookshelf and finding the last book in a series that you haven’t been able to find anywhere else.
I’m writing this now because of an experience Shereen and I had in Belgrave on the weekend. We found a place called Through The Looking Glass. I went in because they had Uglies, Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld in the window. So I ducked in to ask how much they were ($20 for all three – bloody marvelous). Inside, there was a lovely lady sitting in an incredibly comfortable-looking armchair, reading. I nodded and went to move into the shop to find the owner when she asked me if she could help.
The owner was sitting just inside the shop reading a book! I almost burst into tears realising that this was a possible career. Shereen and I chatted with her for a good twenty minutes, with me occasionally ducking off to explore. I forgot to ask her name, but I’m pretty sure from Facebook stalking the shop’s page that it is Robyn, so I’m going with that.
This is my ideal bookshop. There are boxes of books everywhere. It’s difficult to walk around. Finding books here is about exploration, and that is my perfect day.
You absolutely have to go and say hi, like the Facebook page and go buy some books. It’s like Nirvana. I was very impressed, as you might be able to tell.
OK, if you can’t make it to Belgrave, here are some of the other places I have a special affinity with:
Flinders Books – the Flinders St store opposite the station. It was another squeezy, cosy store with more books than necessary. But now it’s dead, along with Kill City books that was owned by the same people. I’m so sad!
Book Now in Bendigo. I’m not sure how it is now, as I haven’t been there in a few years. But this was a lovely, multi-floored bookshop with staircases with metal railings. They always gave me a good price when I brought in a pile of books for sale.
Yarra Cottage Books in Warrandyte. A very friendly owner and a great children’s section. They also get in some very interesting rare volumes, including a multi-volume 1001 Arabian Nights which I desperately wanted but couldn’t afford.
I write because I read. I read mainly because of libraries (there’s another post) and second-hand bookstores.
Show them some love people! They’ll be around long after e-books have been made redundant by the New World Order and the end of the Digital Age.