Books: Used or New? My Findings

I have a friend whose wife, a huge fan of mystery novels, refuses to touch library books because she doesn't know where they've been before. They might be dirty or have germs or something. So she and her mother (who shares the same phobia) buy new books and keep them between themselves.

Me, I just love books. I'm not particularly picky. When I can afford it, I do like to buy books, not because I'm afraid of library germs, but primarily because if I own the book I can more easily share it with someone else afterward.

Starting the Wisdom from the 42nd Page blog has forced me to find lots of new interesting books. Almost too many (I'm contemplating cutting back the frequency from three a day to one or two at most). There simply isn't enough time to read everything I would like to. But that doesn't mean I don't give it the 'ole college try...

To keep the 42ndPage.com from completely bankrupting me, I've taken to buying used copies of books that I've featured when the used copy can be had for just a couple of dollars ($5 or less, including shipping—unless I can get it shipped for free).

My most recent used acquisition (like several that proceeded it) came with a little leftover from the books previous owner. Unlike the others (mostly boring faded ATM receipts) this one was quite poignant and makes me wonder who used to own this book, what were they going through in their lives?

You see, the book was the National Book Award Winner How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter. Tucked inside was a folded 8½" X 11" sheet of paper:

Note found in book which reads: 'Daer mom you are the best mom I evre had I love you because you are my mom. I feel happy'
Daer mom you are
the best mom I evre
had I love you
because you are
my mom.
I feel happy.

It reminds me of the finds my sister makes while running.

I wonder who this child was, and who was his mother? Was he visiting her in the hospital while she was dying? Or maybe the other way around? Or maybe everyone is healthy and the mother used her child's note as a bookmark and forgot to remove it before selling the book? Or was the book sold after a funeral?

I'll never know, but it gave me pause to find it, and an opportunity to think of my own forever family (parents, spouse, siblings and children), all of whom I love dearly. As a natural introvert I should probably do more to articulate my love more frequently to them (my own father does give us all a good scare now and then which is enough to give us all pause), though I believe they all know already... (Right? :-)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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