People who know me know I have an unyielding, unreasonable, possibly unhealthy love of books. My personal library is over a thousand volumes strong, and they tend to come in a lot more than they go out. It’s a passion I’ve grown into naturally throughout my life, but recently it occurred to me that this passion may have another dimension to it. A profitable dimension!
I’ve talked to many booksellers over the years, always with a sort of wistful envy that they get to devote their energy to the buying and selling of these great treasures. Then, while recently attending a ridiculously huge and amazing book sale, I met a seller who reminded me an awful lot of myself. Similar age, similar back-story, and now he was making money dealing books out of his house with his girlfriend. Livin’ the dream, as far as I’m concerned. This got me to thinking: I know books. I know the internet. I’ve sold things. I could make a neat side business with this, add “book-slinger” to my many epithets. I’ve always liked to have multiple hats.
So, at the next ridiculously huge and amazing book sale, I bought some extra stuff, with the intent of selling rather than collecting. Then I culled some of the more valuable books from my own collection. This gave me a tidy little stock, enough to get started with. Today I am working on researching values and making a database. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the philosophy of selling books, and how it involves knowledge and trust and research and community. And the more I think about it, the more I realize: I can do this! I can have fun doing this!
Stay tuned, book-lovers. Stay tuned.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
No one blends the real and the fantastic like Neil Gaiman. The more I read of him, the more I believe he is one of our greatest living story-tellers.
Anansi Boys is a story of family, fable, and finding one's voice. Neil's own narrative voice is effortlessly captivating, as he weaves a tale as tight and multifaceted as a mischievous Spider's spindly web. His characters are full and loveable, his humor and sensibilities endearing, and his trademark spins of reality full of fun and simple wisdom. Can't recommend this modern classic enough.
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Books are amazing things. They are like spider silk connecting us to a web that stretches through time and space. And one thing I love is the magic of stumbling randomly upon a book that ends up really changing you. Sure, the digital-age affords us undreamed-of choices and access, with everything we imagine we want only a click away. But there is much to be said for old-fashioned serendipity, the chance encounters that alter our course out in the real world. Finding an unexpected book is a lot like forging an unexpected friendship. You weren’t looking for it, but now that you have it – what happiness! Each experience forges us anew, and sometimes we don’t know what we love until we find it.
Who knows why we pick the books we pick. Maybe a title triggers something in your mind. Maybe the author is familiar. Maybe the cover attracts you. Or maybe you find a worn paperback on a park bench and just start reading. When I was on the road a lot, I would leave my finished paperbacks in strategic spots to be enjoyed by the next random wayfarer. And I still love to give books away, and have them given to me. There is nothing like an unexpected book gifted by a friend, or a complete stranger.
What I like about used books particularly is how they can travel. When I hold one, I like to imagine the “life” of it, how it ended up in my hands. Which brings us, at last, to the point. There is a project called Book Crossing where you can print a special label for a book and “release” it out into the world, following its journey with the website. People who find the book can enter the ID# on the site and talk about how they found out, what they think of it, and where it is now. I think this is pretty damn neat, and I’d love to see it catch on!