The Life in Our Books.

This is a post about the many people who have previously lived inside of our used books. I know — it sounds a little creepy at first, right? But I promise, it’s not.

What is it about a second-hand book store that makes one’s pulse race? It is the dust, or that lovely musty smell? Or is it just the enormous power of life that all these pre-owned volumes contain?


~ The oldest book I own is a copy of Goldsmith’s Works from 1872. The inscription is written in pencil, and it’s a little hard to see, but I adjusted the focus so that you can make it out.


Previously owned by John Somebody-or-Other. I can’t quite tell. It’s one of those catalogue-volumes with the really old, really nifty additional-materials pages.

There’s even a portrait of Goldsmith, and another one of his birthplace.



~ Here’s an inscription from the cover of my copy of Dickens’s A Child’s History of England. I’m fairly certain that it’s from 1893.


~ This is from my copy of Balzac’s Contes Drolatiques (Droll Stories), Volume 1.


Here are a couple of the plates from it:

~ I have a copy of The Legacy of Greece, edited by R.W. Livingstone, which is filled with essays on how Greek learning impacted many different areas of modern culture, such as literature, medicine, etc. (Obviously — my favorite essay is the one on literature. It’s very interesting.)


Mr. Holmes even had his own personal book stamps.


Pretty cool, right?

~ Anyway, another of my prized volumes is a copy of The Alhambra by Washington Irving.

Mr. Weaver even gives us his address! (Although I would presume that he’s either no longer living there, or no longer with us.)

A really neat thing, though, is how Mr. Weaver even went about sketching a map of the Alhambra’s interior. It’s a little faint, and it’s not easy to make out the words, but it’s still really awesome.


~ I have a first edition of Captain Caution from 1934, which was owned by Homer P. Cochran.


~ I also have two little Modern Library volumes, one of South Wind and another of Lord Jim, which were both owned by the same person, and inscribed in different years!



Thanks for reading, everyone — and I hope you enjoyed meeting some of the people who live inside of my books!

Who lives in your books?


27 thoughts on “The Life in Our Books.

  1. A very impressive collection as well as technique on introducing us to those who reside within. We had a second-hand bookstore not too far away from us that stayed in their family for ages until finally closing down but there always was an aura, almost a presence, that was consistent with each visit. And indeed many purchases contained at least some evidence of the prior owner or owners. Added to the charm. Wonderful pictures and words C.M.!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Outstanding post! I love old books. Don’t have that many myself but who knows? Being a graphic designer I always wonder about the typography used. Sometimes the design is beautiful and sometimes … Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I really enjoyed this post! I spent ages staring at that signature and I THINK it says “John E Abott” The E is very curvy I grant you, which can happen in cursive and lady’s hand and the b in Abbot just looks like an empty space but look hard and you can see a sort of small downwards curling leaf shaped ‘b’ impression. Although it may be from a previous owner who has been erased. Take another look for argument’s sake. It feels strange getting used to this new theme, I’m sure it’ll grow on me. ~ P ~

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m good thanks, things are a-changing IRL next week but I’m good thanks. Hope you are too.You don’t have a second opinion on my deductions then? About John E Abott?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m pretty sure that I agree with you on that one. After you suggested “Abbott,” I squinted at it for a few seconds, and said, “Hmmm. I think she’s right.”


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