Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Secret Histories of Books & Finding Treasures

Whether you're a reader or writer, you know what a treasure reading can be. But what about finding actual treasures inside your books?

I was thrilled to find a mint, hardcover edition of The Graveyard
, complete with dusk jacket. Imagine my surprise when I
discovered a long personal message scribbled on the inside.
Now if I could just decode this cryptic handwriting, I might
enjoy learning about the kids who gave and received this book.
I buy lots of my books used from Amazon or my local thrift store. Just last night, while reading Lois Sacher's Wayside School Gets A Little Strange, I stumbled upon an older sticker backing (you know, the wax paper that holds the sticker before you stick it). On it was scribbled a smiley face (with some boogers hanging from his nose). It made me smile to wonder just who that kid was and how long ago he put it there, apparently to mark his page.

I've found bookmarks, business cards, dedications (usually on books given as gifts), even a few author signatures in used books (I love those). To me, it's like uncovering buried treasure.

What's the best thing I've found in a book? I once found a note, folded over four-times, like it'd been clandesidly passed in class, by a Melissa proclaiming her love for Omar and his gorgeous brown eyes. That one not only made my day, but momentarily transported me back to my middle grade homeroom--what a gift.

I'm still waiting to find some cash in an old book--maybe a winning lottery ticket? What's the best thing you've ever found in a book--besides a new world or adventure?

Update: New title, thanks to 'Old Kitty'


  1. I found a new bookmark last week in a book from the library. Unfortunately it was in Yiddish, so I'm not sure what it said...

  2. Gosh I love that pic of the inside of that book you have -how wonderful!!! I always love the scribbled dedication notes I find in second hand books. It always makes me wonder as to who the players were in buying, receiving and eventually surrendering the book to a charity shop! These books have so much secret histories!

    Take care

  3. Kitty, you Are so right. I think I might change my title to: The secret Histories of Books!

  4. That's awesome! I love finding things in them too! Little treasures from another time in old books. Mystical magical tidbits of life. Love em.

  5. I've never found anything except neat script of the past owners. I often wonder how much they loved and treasured their books as they would have been much rarer at that time.

  6. I once found a newspaper clipping from the anniversary marking Anne Frank. At the time I was collecting Anne Frank stuff. I especially love library book sales. I spent time collecting old Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew and Alice in Wonderland books as well as children's books with records in them (mostly Disney). You're right, it is a treasure hunt and a fun one.

  7. I haven't been lucky enough to find anything in an old book. I love library sales too, and I'll have to take a walk to my goodwill store and see if anything "fun" shows up.

    But I like the pic of the book in the post. It's a secret and you need a decoder ring.

  8. I can read most of the writing, but the beginning is difficult because of the camera angle. Here's what I think it says:

    At this festive time of the year __________

    Newbery award winners are creating fast moving stories that transport readers--young and not so young--to (unnamed) places. In the Graveyard Book a child finds ______, comfort and nu(r)ture in one of the most unlikely places--a graveyard. Certainly a spot most of us would overlook when seeking resources of any kind. It proves to be a wonderful place to grow up and learn about life. As you manage the resources set before you--always a challenge--perhaps those that seem less likely to make a difference will prove most abundant.

    As Bod Owens ______.
    "Leave no path untaken...A difficult challenge, but I can try my best."

    Best Wishes in the year--and paths ahead,


  9. That love note's so sweet! I haven't found anything interesting :( But I'll keep hoping for that winning lotto ticket!


  10. My favorites are the grandparent writing to the grandchild. I love imagining the generations of book lovers.