Monday, August 31, 2015

The Recycled Book Store

I love the smell of a new book almost as much as Hermione loves the smell of a parchment. However, I recently discovered that I love the stains on the second hand books, the yellowed paper, nondescript scribbles, and broken bindings more than a brand new book.

After moving to San Jose, the only thing I really asked people about was a book store. Surprisingly, book stores are not easily available in this city. Yes, you will find the public libraries, I live in front of one, but the charm of a book store is very different than using the Kindle App. I asked my colleagues and the nearest one was almost 10 kilometers away. A little research revealed this small Recycled Book Store near my area, which I decided to explore with my husband one weekend.

The moment you step inside this book store, you receive a warm welcome from a pile of books, which are generally available for less than a $1. I always stop here. I enter and cannot take three steps inside without already picking a book from the welcoming pile. My husband moves on to the comics section.

The store is surprisingly well organised, by themes, and then alphabetically. One can get lost in the rows and rows of books, wooden flooring, and cosy corners to just pick up a book and read for some time. If you are lucky, the cats will graze by or stare at you. Cat lovers will love this place.

Recycled Book Store
I always wonder who was the original owner of the book, which I decided to buy. I always wanted to buy a Calvin and Hobbes volume and when I found one, it looked as if someone really used it well. Yellowed pages, brown stains as if someone spilled a little coffee, markers of the book being used, being read, being handled by someone else before me. The books invite me to not just explore the written words, but also guess work about who read it first. Did a parent read it out to their kid? Was a PG Wodehouse book passed on from grandparent to a grand child like my grand mom did? Was a book donated because the owners no longer had space or had grown out of the book? So many questions raise to my mind when I enter this shop.

A part of the science fiction aisle
There are also some rare finds that one stumbles across in this book store, like the one time I found an Asterix comic in French. I didn't buy it cos I can't read French, and my husband absolutely forbade me to buy anything just because it was in it's original language.

In a land far far away from my home, this recycled book shop give me a feeling of being closer to my roots just by helping me find my favorite authors, or favorite titles. It helps me realize that there are some common threads even when you are away from home. A Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, still gives you the same goosebumps that an abridged version gave you when you first read it probably in your teen age. The Lord Emsworth (from several P.G. Wodehouse books) is still that hilarious old forgetting man, which made you laugh not so long ago.

No matter how convenient it is to load a thousand books on your phone, when it comes to reading as an experience, I would any day pick a book, and now a used book over a new one.