Little secrets

Monday 6 June 2011
I love used books. I love the secrets they hold — notes scrawled in the margins, ripped pages, coffee rings, all from a mysterious owner I will never know. When I lived in Ottawa, I spent hours at The Book Market on Dalhousie, leaving with dozens of used books, each with its own secrets. The Hamilton area also has a handful of shops full of gems, but I must admit, it’s not a used-bookstore that holds the best inexpensive rarities. It’s the Burlington Re-Use Centre.

I almost hesitate to declare my love of the centre here, mostly because it feels like my own little secret. I’m not sure how many bibliophiles have discovered its wealth of used books, but based on the piles I leave with after each visit, I feel like it’s mostly under appreciated. A few weeks ago, I spent a mere $20.00, leaving with some soft-cover classics from my youth, and a number of vintage hardcovers. 

I bought four of these anthologies, each full of stories I remember from my own childhood, and many more I have never heard at all. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has stopped by this blog before, but I am very nostalgic about many things, but especially books.

Each of these anthologies set me back just one or two dollars a piece.

The copyright date on this Nelson anthology is 1937. A faded name is scrawled on the inside, and I can't help but wonder about its previous owner(s) and the life it led.

This gem is a vintage copy of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I have admittedly never read the classic, so I was tempted to buy it even before I saw that careful notes hidden inside.


  1. I love finding marginalia in old books
    Especially when it's really old marginalia, cursive from before the era of widespread typing machines.
    When I was 11 I bought a book about the opera for my grandpa, who couldn't care less, because it already had his name and his mothers name scrawled on the inside cover.

  2. Oh I love that story! What a great gift idea, and what are the chances! I really love buying old books and finding notes scrawled inside or pieces of paper stuck between the pages. Just adds to the experience!

  3. i just purchased that copy of kid's lit while in a small town called Pointe Au Baril. So funny. Right now i am working on a show that is all about Marginalia. My grandfather wrote a lot of his life stories in his dictionary during the Spanish Civil War and he gave me that book before he passed. I am now creating a show based on that book! LOVE Marginalia!

  4. What a great idea, Lisa. Please keep me updated on your show. I would love to check it out!


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