Scraps of Other's Lives, Between the Pages
On the 4th floor of Powell's City of Books, is the sorting
Here all of the thousands and thousands of used books
get sorted by a team of highly trained used book specialists. Every kind of book imaginable goes through this room, from bizarre and unwieldy non-fiction, "Understanding Pacemakers", to treasures of old -- children's books from the 1930's, foreign language bibles, 1970's crime thrillers, (hardback! With huge author photos depicting turtlenecks AND pipes!), art books, movie books, unexpectedly autographed copies of first editions...
and then there are the personal bits from the book's former owners.
The people who read these books often leave revealing pieces of their lives behind in the book. From inscriptions from loving parents and grandparents (" To Stephen, this book came from Paris and we hope you enjoy it and speak like a little frenchman! love, your ana and papa") to rather stiff and formal inscriptions from colleages ("To Doctor James Gerar, with well wishes and gratitude, Professor E. Newman"). And, they leave photos!
There are countless "found photos" on the walls of Powell's. You'll find them tucked here and there, and some are really priceless.
I really like the idea of people's lives literally being "found" in literature. After all, isn't that what a book is? The photos are momentos of people's real lives that find their way into the book, and then, like a seed pod carried by a host, finds it's way into other's lives. Interesting!