I mentioned last time that I had found a few hidden treasures in a local thrift store (secondhand shop? what’s the difference?) and today I thought I’d show you what I actually managed to find. I don’t think I’ve mentioned here on this blog before that I have a Booktube channel; but I actually uploaded an entire book haul video there yesterday if you’re curious. Otherwise, let’s get on to the books in the written word.
The funny thing about secondhand shopping is that, sometimes you come across something you don’t quite know what it is, then go home to discover the hidden gold in the mix. So for example, I bought the Strindberg biography just thinking I wanted to read a biographical account on one of the biggest Swedish names in literary history – only to discover that the author is the father of the Lagercrantz who is now authorized to write the new books in Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander series. I thought the name was familiar, but I didn’t think much about it until I came home and looked it up. It helps that usually the secondhand shops I go to have crappy reception; so no possibilities in looking up ratings on Goodreads or checking names. It’s just me alone, and whatever memory I have about the millions of books I’ve ever heard about.
Actually in the entire stack of books up there, there were many that felt like destined meetings. The Irene Nemirovsky books for example; the previous (and only) time I’ve been to this particular store I bought one of her books in the Vintage edition. Now, I found two more of her books in the same store – of course it’s possible the books came in with the same person and were separated in storage to end up in the store at different times, but several months had passed between my visit in July and now. One of the books above is also in the matching Vintage edition I got in July, which made it feel all the more like they were a matching set. She’s a famous author though, so while I see destiny others might just think it a natural result of a popular author whose books people love and buy and read in big numbers.
Let’s take another example – The Grass for His Pillow by Lian Hearn, the second book in the Otori clan series. I have been on the look-out for the books in the series in thrift stores (can I make up my mind about the term?) for years, as I wanted to re-read the first two and continue on to read the entire series. I specifically wanted to buy them secondhand since I don’t know how I’ll feel about them now, as I read (and loved) them as a teenager and it’s been a few years. So, in the beginning of September I went to my favorite local thrift store and I found the fourth and last book in the series. As I say – I have been looking for the books for years (and have visited this store along with others many times throughout the years) so I was thrilled! Then, just about a month later the visit of the previous weekend, and I find the second book in the series. Coincidence? Well, a lucky one I should say. Two books in two months, sometimes it’s meant to be?
Okay. Two last examples of the magic in secondhand shops (let’s go with it). First, it’s #Victober now, right? So I have been reading both Victorian lit and nonfiction about the Victorian era. Then I find Victorian Secrets above, which is a book about the corset and from what I gather partly a historical look at the nineteenth century through this garment. Timely, yes. And the memoir of Alice Lyttkens, Leva om sitt liv, is another book that felt like fate although in this case it was probably not as coincidental than the others.
Again, the last time I went to this particular store I found a novel by Alice Lyttkens, an early 20th century Swedish writer (or rather, the book I found of hers was published in the 30s, but she lived until the 1990s and she worked for most of those years ). I had never heard her name before this meeting, in this store, but I was curious. Then as I say, I found her memoir in the same store – several months apart, and it felt like a must-buy. The same writer and a memoir about the 1930s at that? Meaning, about her life around the time she wrote the previously mentioned novel! Of course, the memoir might’ve been there for all I knew but it wouldn’t have meant anything to me before I found the novel and my interest was peaked.
The last example is illustrative of what I like to call the unlocking of knowledge, the fact that things (or books in this case, authors, titles, genres) are invisible to you until you’ve come across them and given them meaning, until an author’s name actually means something to you rather than be another name in a sea of unknown names. For me this ‘unlocking’ of genres, authors, titles, has made the experience of thrifting that much more fun because there’s always something that I am interested in – my interests are endless and my horizons boundless. There’s almost no chance of me going to a thrift store, or a library for that matter, and not find anything that sounds fascinating. Because my ‘strike zone’ as it were, is so widened by these kind of chance-meetings and an openness to them, to change me.
I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a peaceful weekend!
Books in the photo:
The Courilof Affair – Irene Nemirovsky
Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky
The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
Grass for his Pillow – Lian Hearn
Billy Thunder and the Night Gate – Isobelle Carmody
Shakespeare’s Language – Frank Kermode
Svinalängorna – Susanna Alakoski
Leva om sitt liv – Alice Lyttkens
Victorian Secrets – Sarah A. Chrisman
August Strindberg – Olof Lagercrantz