Things left behind in used books can be irritating or entertaining. Reader notes scribbled in the margins and underlined passages often contribute to the 'irritating' label in my opinion.
On the other hand, in the entertaining realm are the bits and bobs and other ephemera abandoned by previous readers. Items I have found include credit card receipts, business cards, actual bookmarks (always welcome), newspaper articles, dried flowers, and in the following case, quite a surprise.
At the Locust Grove Used Book Sale in March 2015, I paid a hefty one dollar for a paperback edition of P.G.Wodehouse's The Cat-Nappers. This is a tale of Bertie Wooster's attempt to get away from London for a quiet visit to the country but, because this is Wodehouse, his stay becomes just the opposite. It is the last novel featuring Jeeves and Wooster - one character with the brains and one with an uncanny way of getting caught up in delightful dilemmas.
Anyway, during a recent bout with insomnia, I pulled The Cat-Nappers from a stack on the bookshelf - you can see right away how far behind I am with my TBR pile - and settled in to immerse myself in the wonderful world of Bertie Wooster and his faithful valet. Nothing like a little laughter to raise one's spirits at 3 o'clock in the morning. Before I opened to the first page, I casually flipped through the book and a small piece of paper fell into my lap.
It was the stub from an United Airline boarding pass. When I read the name of the person on the ticket I discovered it was someone I knew. I was not close friends with this woman but we had met quite a few times and had several mutual acquaintances. She was from a prominent family in Louisville and contributed much to the community. She died in late 2013. I guess that is how her book came to be in the used book sale a year and a half later.
I studied the stub further. Her flight was from Chicago/O'Hare to Louisville and the date of the flight was March 27 - my birthday! Although there was no year noted, I did some investigating and discovered that the United logo printed on the stub was in use from 1974-1993.
Her seat was in the non-smoking section and more detective work revealed that the airlines went totally non-smoking on short flights in 1990. This narrowed even further the possible year of her flight. As the edition of The Cat-Nappers in hand had a publication date of 1975, I could only deduce that the flight took place between then and 1990.
Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me.
Of course, all this is just an amusing - to me - anecdote of what surprises books can hold in addition to the stories printed in their pages.
Have you discovered any interesting items between the pages of your books? Or perhaps you have inadvertently left something of your own behind for the next owner to discover. Please, do tell.
I always make sure the books I give away are free from any of my personal ephemera. But I love your story about the airline ticket. What a lot of coincidences and detective work! I like to find old photos, postcards, articles, etc., but I draw the line at squashed insects or the remains of someone's lunch (which I also find too often).ReplyDelete
Oh, yeah, Joan. The squished things and brown stains are too creepy to be dealt with! I may start leaving bits of artwork behind in books that I donate. Just for fun!Delete
By the way, 'The Cat-Nappers' was a delightful book that saw me through quite a few sleepless nights. I love Bertie and Jeeves. Makes me want to re-watch the DVDs with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. They were the perfect team.
What a cool idea: leaving bits of art behind. I like that. I also love Bertie and Jeeves. Of course, I can never read those books without seeing Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, who, I agree, were perfect for those roles.Delete
There will never be another Fry and Laurie! There was a play in London in 2013, Perfect Nonsense, starring Matthew MacFadyen as Jeeves (if you ever watched 'MI5' he played Tom). I think it is touring now.Delete
I see that one can watch several J&W episodes on YouTube!
There is a book with this subject - things left behind in books. The title/author isn't coming to me at present. If I figure it out I will let you know! Sounds like your reading of detective stories prepared you for your own sleuthing.ReplyDelete
Hi, Joyce. Yes, that book and website is Forgotten Bookmarks. (Thanks Kathy for the reminder below.) It is a fun site to visit. Sometimes the blogger/author Michael Popek features artistic inscriptions as well. He is a used bookseller so he has ample opportunity to unearth bits and bobs left behind.Delete
This was so enjoyable to read, Belle, and what a prime bit of sleuthing you did. It also reminded me of a blog I used to read from a used bookstore that would post interesting items found in vintage books. It was called something like bookmarks or forgotten bookmarks and shared items like recipes, letters, postcards. I should try to find that site again. Other than pressed flowers and four-leaf-clovers, I don't recall finding much in used books, but, wonder what I might have left behind.ReplyDelete
Hi, Penny. The website is Forgotten Bookmarks. It is fun to visit. (Thanks to Kathy for the reminder below.) As the blogger is a used bookseller he has quite a few treasures to dip into! I told Joan above that I may start leaving behind bits of my artwork in books that I donate! Spread the joy in more ways than one.Delete
That IT! I'll "bookmark" the blog so I can visit it again. Thanks to you and to Kathy.Delete
What a fun idea that is - leaving "treasures to dip into".
What a fun surprise. Now and then I find something in a book (most often, it's someone's library checkout receipt), but nothing as interesting as what you found. Have you read Forgotten Bookmarks, by Michael Popek? I wrote about it here: http://www.catchinghappiness.com/2012/07/treasures-within-treasures.html. I think you'd like it!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Kathy, for the reminder about 'Forgotten Bookmarks'. I see that Michael Popek is still posting his finds on his website/blog. I like the idea of purposefully leaving something between the pages. I may start leaving bits of my artwork in books that I donate or return to the library. Just for fun!Delete
What a great idea! A nice surprise for a like-minded reader.Delete
Belle, what an amazing thing to find! I often find bookmarks, but nothing so personal as a boarding pass.ReplyDelete
By the way, that was the first P. G. Wodehouse book I ever read. I was in my teens and saw him interviewed on a Chicago PBS book show in the '70s. It must have been one of his last interviews.
Kat, your comment sent me to YouTube and I see that there are a few brief interviews with Wodehouse along with an hour-long documentary! They are on my list now. He is one of my favorite writers and I never tire of his characters and wordplay. Brilliant.Delete
I once saw a display window filled with bookmarks at my local library. They had been saved from donated books and there were a good many. When I worked with Friends of the Library sorting books, we decided not to keep the slice of bacon someone used. I think the book was discarded also. Can't remember for sure if it was beyond help.ReplyDelete
I make greeting cards and I often make bookmarks. I put them in books I pass on to friends and they seem to appreciate having a bookmark at their fingertips when they read the book. Perhaps I'll start putting them in books I donate to the library sales as well.
Hi, Patsy. Creepy about the bacon...I love finding (non-greasy) things in books. I too make bookmarks out of failed watercolor projects.Delete
The other day I returned books to the library and slipped a bookmark in each one. After I had browsed around and got to the checkout desk with my books, the librarian had discovered the bookmarks and set them out at her station for people to take. Not exactly what I had in mind, but whatever works.