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Monday, 18 April 2016

Read Only Once

Our island home of Prince Edward has had an environmentally friendly approach to garbage for over a decade. Living in such a small area, slightly larger than the state of Delaware, you can imagine the amount of garbage its population of 140,000 could generate, covering our pastoral setting. 

When the sorting of garbage became the focus, people worked at re-using, giving away or selling items. Some items pass through numerous hands before they are discarded. A recent item on a local Buy and Sell or give-away site read, "I have a lot of magazines to give away. Read only once." 

On-line today, there are websites selling books, new and used. Often while reading a book club selection, I read some of the author's other work, or a book mentioned by one of the characters. On-line, it is possible to acquire out-of-print books for a good price. Recently I read Alice Munro's Dear Life in which one of her characters mentioned Wild Geese, written by Martha Ostenso in 1925. I bought Martha's book on-line and thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you buy such used books, there are descriptions of the condition of the books. Some books are available for a penny; delivery costs raise the price but are not prohibitive. I have received books from England, the United States and Canada, within the estimated arrival time and in good condition. 



These old books make my mind work overtime. Who was the book's first owner? How many times has it changed hands? Why did the readers decide on this book? Where has it traveled before it arrived at my door? What did the other readers think of the book?

While the magazines may have been read only once, I am more intrigued with books which have a history of ownership and work for the imagination.

14 comments:

  1. The title of your post puzzled me, until I read it, since "Read Only Once" can be taken as present or past tense. Then I realized you meant books that have had many owners and readers. It is fascinating to think who else read a book you hold in your hands. I might have to find that 1925 book. :-)

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    1. It is a great book and by a woman at that point in Canadian history. It could be in Canafian literature courses for sure.

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  2. Makes me think of when I was a kid and everyone passed around their comic books. I read comics that were positively ancient but still being "traded" with enthusiasm. And in those days, it wasn't environmentalism behind the recycling, it was economics -- kids had no money!

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    1. Excellent point. Glad you mentioned it.

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  3. This bookstore is in our town, Ever come across it?
    http://anvilcloud.blogspot.ca/2015/07/a-visit-to-one-of-canadas-largest.html

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    1. I haven't ordered anything from them yet but who knows?

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  4. I believe we had that identical volume on the bookshelf when I was a child. It was my father's. I wonder if he read it once. I didn't.

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    1. There is a story anout that book too.

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  5. I love old books like you I always wonder who has owned them in the past. I do still use my library a great deal so I haven't got too large a collection of books and if there is one that I want to have in my collection I do try to see if I can get on kindle first. Sarah x

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    1. I use kindle for travel but prefer a book in hand otherwise. Libraries are still well used here as well. There is nothing like a good book to pass the time and take you away...

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  6. I love old books. My mom in law finds them here and there and saves some for me. That book sounds great.

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  7. I love books but these days don't have the space so have to put up with the sterile Kindle.

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  8. I use a Kindle for travel but love the feel of a book.

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