A shipment of books comes in. Wrapped in paper bags and twine, smelling of years so far past I wonder if I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole to the 1800s, my 4-year-old and I tear the paper off, eager to find out what we’ll curl up with and read tonight.
The majority of our books are used ones. It might surprise you to know it has nothing to do with price, although they can be significantly cheaper. It also isn’t about them already being worn so Bella doesn’t have to be careful. We are almost more careful with our used ones because they have been loved for years on end, and it shows.
I buy used books because they come with their own history.
One book in the shipment has a handwritten note to a little boy, dated 1965. It was his birthday; his aunt must have thought that a book on lions would be a wonderful present for him.
Still another has a library card left in the pages. We look at all the stamped dates and where it lived when it was loved by so many.
I tell Bella to inhale them; they smell wonderfully musty and old. She giggles as we sniff the books and I realize how insane we both must look. On the floor smelling books.
These books were loved and cherished by someone. So many of them have little reminders of where they have been, who read them until their pages were worn on the ends. A new book is lovely, and Bella has plenty of those as well. But an old book is like a reminder that you’re connected with the rest of the world — those who also love to read.
I spend my evenings every few weeks on the Instagram page of @DibbleandDash, typing “Sold!” as fast as I can when her childrens’ book sales flood my feed. It’s one of the highlights of my week. Book after book comes across, many that take me back to a moment in childhood I’d forgotten. I know she loves these books as much as I do, and while buying I’m connected with women who feel the same. I’m still the girl who wanted to read more than anything, but I’m no longer the outcast like I was at 13. I’ve found my tribe here. It’s okay to be a bookworm, and at 30 I finally take pride in it.
I have some of my own books saved for Bella to read. Others I buy that will take years for her to have the attention span to listen to, but they wait on her shelves. I glance at them on days when her growing up seems to happen all too fast, and my heart hurts a little — they remind me there is still so much more wonderful to come as she gets older.
Buying used books is a reminder of life that was, is, and the life still to come.
Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, She Reads Truth, Still Standing Magazine, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, with smaller glimpses into her day on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
More from Diana:
- The Booster Seat
- Science in the Homeschool Classroom
- Introducing the Little House on the Prairie Books to my Daughter
- The Joy of Buying Your Kid’s First Pet