I am currently reading a book of Wordsworth’s poetry which was published 91 years ago, in 1921. The wonderful thing about reading old, vintage books is knowing that other people have read them before. It might be nice to buy new books from commercial stores, to smell the crisp pages of fresh ink, but what’s the point? It’s not helping anyone, especially not the trees. I found this one in a local Red Cross charity shop and bought it for £1. You can find the same books in charity shops for a tenth of the price than in a normal bookshop and they look way better on your bookshelf at home. Although it may be a bit worn around the edges (this one has been battered quite a bit), you know that your book has been loved.
It’s not just the words of ink inside which tell stories, it’s the cover, too. Books sit on shelves for hundreds of years in the same room, in the same library. They watch children turn into adults and generations pass by; they travel around the world in bags, backpacks and suitcases and they are read again and again by all sorts of people, at all sorts of times. Some are the sources of happiness, sadness or even self-realisation.
My 91 year-old book has sat on a shelf through WWII, the entirety of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the elections of 22 British Prime Ministers, the opening of the second millennium, the landing of the first man on the Moon, the invention of Penicillin and more…
Go on, go to your local charity bookstore and search for a gem like this one. You’ll feel sanguine.