The Joy and Sadness of Charity Shops

Today I dragged Mrs. Drew into a couple of charity bookshops. Lurking amongst shelves of musty smelling paperbacks is a guilty hobby of mine. As per usual I found some great titles (The Cinema 1952 edited by Roger Manvell and Pauline Kael on the Best Film Ever Made, just in case anyone cares). I love second hand bookshops and charity bookshops in particular. These are books that people don’t want and that no-one places any real value in, if the owner thought they were worth a penny they would no doubt be on ebay in a flash, but one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and I have bought some really great reads over the years.

There is one thing that is always guaranteed to curb my enjoyment however. Occasionally one will be browsing the shelves and notice a complete or near complete collection of something. A pile of Star Trek books and tapes for example or the entire oeuvre of a particular author. I used to wonder what makes people decide to dump a collection wholesale like this but then it dawned on me that often the case me be that the owners probably didn’t have a choice; they were dead. This then creates a strange feeling. Am I rifling through a deceased human being’s once treasured collection?

All of this morbidity is of course put to one side when I stumble upon a desirable £1.50 paperback. Stuff the dead, reading is for the living! It does make me wonder though, what will happen to the mounds of stuff I leave behind one day? The more I think about it the more the thought of my lifetime’s hoard of books and epherma being thrown in the general direction of a charity bookshop seems fine by me.

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