Treasures of second hand shops

Who doesn’t enjoy that moment  in a second hand book shop when your eye alights on something special? Of course we’d all love it if we discovered a rare edition or even a first edition signed by the author. But there is also a thrill when you find the book that will complete your collection of a series or works by a particular author or you find an out of print book that has remained elusive for years.

Imagine if you had walked into a charity shop in Wales in the last couple of weeks and made the same discovery the volunteers did when they opened a bag from a donor. Inside was a 178-year-old Bible passed down through generations of the same family and inscribed with their names. Now the shop is trying to trace living relatives of the family so the heirloom can be restored to them.

I had a sUnknownpecial moment of my own last week when I found an original of the very first book published by Virago in their modern classics series. Frost in May  by Antonia White came out in 1978, signalling the start of a list dedicated to the rediscovery and celebration of women writers. Spotting this in a charity bookshop took me back to that year when I read the book as some light relief after the trauma of end of term exams. I loved the book, told everyone in my hall of residence they should read it but stupidly loaned it to someone who took it on holiday and lost it.  Thirty seven years later and my book and I have now been re-united (ok I know the chances that this is MY lost copy are extremely thin but indulge me in this conceit please).

Have you found any special treats or made any discoveries while browsing in second hand shops?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on February 22, 2015, in Sunday Salon and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. I love finding surprises at secondhand shops! I have found a few signed first editions for a song and then there are those out of print books that are impossible to get and suddenly, there it is! What a great find you made! Now don’t let that copy out of your hands again! 🙂

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  2. I love a good mooch in a second hand/charity shop. My dad recently found two first edition Harry Potter books for me in an antique shop which made my month let alone day!

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  3. There’s nothing I like more than visiting a used book store. I always feel like I’m on a treasure hunt – you never know what you’re going to find. 🙂

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  4. Haven’t been to one in a while but I keep thinking about rereading old books that I have on my shelf –particularly those by John Fowles such as The Magus. Currently reading The Book of Ebenezer Le Page that Fowles wrote the intro to.

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    • I keep so many books thinking that I will re-read them again one day. But seldom do. Although last year I got out my very old copies of Graham Greene and read two of them. They were even better second time around.

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  5. Second hand shops are my fave. Sigh. I can really bend my wallet in one. lol

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  6. Oh I hate it when a book you have lauded to everyone gets borrowed and never returned – it has happened to me several times. And of course that is your long lost copy come home to you.

    I am always on the look out for rare green viragos – and remember picking up a copy of H D’s Bid me to Live once for next to nothing. I was later informed it can be a very hard one to find.

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    • I wish I could say that I did learn my lesson from that experience Ali though I’ve since loaned books to other people and had the same experience. Next time I think I’ll just buy them the book.
      You did have a lucky find! The second hand places around our way seem mostly to deal in Grisham and Nesbo..

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    • Have we taught you NOTHING? 1) never give your own copy out if you want it back 2) if people are meant to have it, a copy will come your way when you’re ready. Tsk

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    • I have stopped “lending” my sister the books that I want back,as I know she wont return them.. She only gets the books I dont want back, because no matter how many times I say “I want these back” she goes “oh I thought I could pass them on”. She still gets a shed load from me, but still…….

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      • Its my mother who is more of a culprit.she seems to get my instructions backwards so if I say, I don’t want this back, she carefully puts it to one side to return to me. But if I say I would like this back, it ends up being passed to her friends and to the book club chums. Maybe I should put a big sticker on every cover?

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  7. I’m rarely in charity shops looking at their books (like I need more books!) but I was in a BHF shop a month ago killing some time waiting for friends. I found a British Library Crime Classic book called “The Cornish Coast Murder” by John Bude in near mint condition. I only recognised the style of cover due to having been given one for a christmas present.

    It had been republished the year before – originally published in 1935 – and had been in the shop less than a week, priced at £2. Not a first edition or anything, but a pleasing addition in a new to me line of books.

    Part of my current reading challenge is to get books OFF the shelves, and hopefully in the hands of someone else. Part of me doesnt want to get rid of this one because it’s so pretty!

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    • don’t make me feel guilty about this Nordie – I too have way more books than I actually have time to read but it still doesn’t stop me succumbing to temptation..

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      • I’ve long given up being an enabler – apart from the book tokens being part of people’s Christmas presents! – so you gotta do what you gotta do. I was actually in there looking at crockery, as I had scored on a couple of mugs in the same shop a year previously. I have no shame over mugs either!

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