There are times when the book’s own life story is just as engaging as the one within it! We’re often so fixated on the book we’re about to read that we rarely stop and think about the book’s previous lives in the hands of other readers and owners.
I had my eyes (and my mind) well and truly opened yesterday when I read my friend’s post on his Facebook page about an old book he’d bought from a pre-loved book shop in Brighton. Rather than just glancing at the name carefully inscribed inside the front cover, he researched the lady behind the name. Here’s the story in Jason’s own words …
“We bought lots of old books as props for our wedding. This is one of them. I thought, to myself, ’Who is Daisy Wiggins, who was gifted this book for Christmas 1906?’ Possibly it’s this lady…. Daisy Emily Wiggins, born in the 1897 in Clapton, London, then married Robert and became Daisy Nagle in 1920 aged 23. Gave birth in Hackney 3 years later to Lily. Some point afterwards moved to Sussex, where she died in Hove in 1991 aged 95. Five years later her daughter died in Brighton aged 73. No signs of children, in which case a house clearance and somehow her book ended up on a shelf of very old books Kate and I bought in a market. Fascinating life this book must have seen.”
I can’t help thinking Daisy would have been really chuffed if she’d known someone had taken the time to find out more about her.
Jason’s discovery had me pondering on just how many treasures there are to be found in pre-loved bookshops up and down the land. Books that we will never be able to find in the online world and book megastores. And that deliciously bookish smell takes on a whole new level of enticement in a shop full of books that have lead a thousand past lives.
Our book blogger’s quest has become a race to be the first to read the hot new releases; the ones subtly poked under our noses by savvy marketing departments and spooky algorithms. But there are some real gems out there, nestled in a second hand book shop which are practically shimmering with long forgotten possibilities – they are our opportunity to be the book blogger who’s reading something unique.