Originally posted 5 January 2011 on my, now defunct, Aurora’s Creative Corner blog.  Pulling this out as a ‘Throwback Thursday’ contribution.

One of my favourite things to do when I make it into the city is to visit the huge used book store John W. Doull. {2016 Note: This store is no longer in the same location in downtown Halifax. You can change this to “Wolfville” and “The Odd Book”. :) }  They specialize in rare and antiquarian books but you can find just about anything there if you spent enough time looking!  I can – and have – spent hours just browsing around the store… and then another half hour or more narrowing down the books I’ve chosen to a pile that I can actually afford.

Work With HorsesThat pile is always almost exclusively made up of books printed at least 1950 or earlier, unless the work itself is younger than that of course.

So how do I choose the books that end up in this pile?  Sometimes I go in looking for specific titles or authors, simply looking for the oldest nicest copy I can find that is within my budget. Sometimes, browsing the shelves and piles, the cover or spine of an old book may catch my attention.  I will either buy it, just because, or it will at least make me pick it up and look at it and I may find a book that looks interesting on merit of its content as well.  Sometimes a book will make it to the pile because of the inscription or some other personal item left behind.

But it’s more than that.  It’s more than the look of a book or the smell – the smell of an old book is one of my favourite scents – after all you can’t judge a book by its cover!  No, it goes further than that.  Like so much else for me, it’s the history behind the book I’m holding in my hands that draws me to it.  Though I’m definitely no expert in the area, the general idea of how the book was made.  What is the story behind the inscription lovingly written in the front of the book?  How many times though the decades has this book been read?  Did its owners enjoy it?  What was going on in their lives while they were reading it?

So many of those questions will never be answered… but I still love to ask them.

So what about you?  What if anything do you enjoy about these old books?

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