Author Topic: What have you found written in second-hand books?  (Read 6894 times)

What have you found written in second-hand books?
« on: October 09, 2017, 08:09:39 PM »
...there's a beauty in finding used books for a penny or whatever on Amazon and eBay. You end up with the kind of editions that they just don't make anymore, and they're often personalised and unique. Sometimes the previous owner has written a message on the inside cover for the next owner.

I've been wanting to start a thread about this, I love seeing what people have written in second-hand books, even though my Great-Granda instilled in me tremendous and obsessive regard for the treatment of books. I'd borrow all his Alfred Hitchcock books or whatever else (fucking LOVED The Three Detectives), and he'd always tell people off if they left a book face down while open, as it breaks the spine.

Anyway, as mentioned in the other thread, I bought "The Metaphysical Poets" largely because it is lovingly annotated.

I'll look and see if I can find any interesting stuff in my second-hand books.

Very interested to hear about these "notes for the next owner" Twed mentioned, that's awesome.

Buelligan

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 08:12:58 PM »
Shit loads of used words, mostly.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2017, 08:20:00 PM »
Got the book of Donnie Brasco from ebay about 10 yrs ago and over the last few pages was some weird porn index but with mysterious numbers, not website addresses etc "Sexy big tits Hispanic 2364" etc.
Also got Jim Bowens autobiography from the mrs as I am obsessive Bullseye watcher and its got " To Fred, Best Wishes ,Jim Bowen" written by the man himself, apparently from a signing on a cruise on the QE2.  Was always gonna be to 'Fred',

spamwangler

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2017, 08:26:53 PM »
Got the book of Donnie Brasco from ebay about 10 yrs ago and over the last few pages was some weird porn index but with mysterious numbers, not website addresses etc "Sexy big tits Hispanic 2364" etc.
Also got Jim Bowens autobiography from the mrs as I am obsessive Bullseye watcher and its got " To Fred, Best Wishes ,Jim Bowen" written by the man himself, apparently from a signing on a cruise on the QE2.  Was always gonna be to 'Fred',


Read that as ' to Fred, West'

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2017, 08:31:35 PM »


Perhaps because of the allegations about Koestler, perhaps simply a bored student.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2017, 08:41:32 PM »
I used to distribute an American magazine called Found, which published things (lists, letters, photos etc) that people had found on the floor, or in books and records and so on. As a result, 2 students got in touch with me about their project which was to go through every single book in a particular library (I can't for the life of me remember which one but I think it was related to their art school) and catalogue whatever they found along with the book in which they'd found it. They then published the catalogue and each one had one of the items tucked inside. I got a dry cleaning ticket. Unfortunately, I got all pissed up one night and knocked a bottle of wine over my copy. Dick.

Also, I found a photograph of a rough looking man inside an Agatha Christie book in Holmfirth.

non capisco

  • Don't wanna hear those vile trumpets anymore
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2017, 09:03:07 PM »
I'd borrow all his Alfred Hitchcock books or whatever else (fucking LOVED The Three Detectives)

He he, literally the first thing I thought of when I saw the thread title was a crude drawing of a naked woman with a speech bubble saying "Fuck me, readers!" that I saw in the back of a Three Detectives book I got at a boot fair when I was about nine.

My favourite one is a copy of Bob Dylan's 'Chronicles Vol. 1' I bought in Oxfam where someone had pretended it was a signed copy and had written 'Hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it, lots of love Bob Dylan' on the frontispiece. Maybe it was him, I dunno.

Prez

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2017, 09:06:03 PM »
For my birthday, my boyfriend gave me a beautiful old hardback edition of The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo (basically a book-length essay explaining the significance of tea in Japanese culture to Western readers, but its also admired as a literary classic with fine verbal imagery), which he later told me he had bought from a charity shop in Chiswick. Once I carefully slid the book out of its box covering, I opened it up to find this:



It's honestly quite exciting to imagine there's a genealogy of sorts between myself and Kakuzo. I haven't managed to track down 'Leonardo' or 'Sue', but 'Nanda Lal Bose' is presumably this Nandalal Bose.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2017, 09:07:40 PM »
non capisco: Love all that stuff at school. One stays with me, and always will. We're studying Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is kneeling, holding his arm aloft towards Juliet as she looks down fondly at him, and he at her. A speech bubble has been written on which has Romeo saying "SNIFF MY OXTERS BIG GIRL."

I'd never heard the word oxters before, so it was arguably educational.

non capisco

  • Don't wanna hear those vile trumpets anymore
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 09:13:42 PM »
When I moved into a flat in Crystal Palace once someone had left a recipe book in one of the drawers that inexplicably had a post-it note inside it with a crap drawing of a hairy priapic ape like figure wearing a bra, captioned "SEX YETI." Cheers for that.

non capisco

  • Don't wanna hear those vile trumpets anymore
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2017, 09:14:51 PM »
non capisco: Love all that stuff at school. One stays with me, and always will. We're studying Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is kneeling, holding his arm aloft towards Juliet as she looks down fondly at him, and he at her. A speech bubble has been written on which has Romeo saying "SNIFF MY OXTERS BIG GIRL."

I'd never heard the word oxters before, so it was arguably educational.

That's just amazing. Oxters!

Prez

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2017, 09:30:38 PM »
I haven't managed to track down 'Leonardo' or 'Sue', but 'Nanda Lal Bose' is presumably this Nandalal Bose.

Done a bit of digging. I think "Leonardo" was Leonard Elmhirst, a philanthropist who travelled extensively in India and was a close friend of Nandalal Bose (and of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore), and "Sue" was Susanna Isaacs Elmhirst (whose nickname was 'Sue'). They married in 1973, so maybe I'm looking at a wedding gift. My book's taken on a sentimental value now!

another Mr. Lizard

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2017, 09:57:10 PM »
In my early teens I'd read a library copy of Peter Underwood's Boris Karloff bio, 'Horror Man', and was keen to add it to my movie reference shelves - found a second hand hardback in a Leicester bookshop in the mid 80s and picked it up cheaply. Got it home, to find scrawled on the inside "property of Lenore Lugosi-Blasko. For the love of Boris".

Nowadays I'd merely write that off as being the fantasy identity of an over-eager goth, but the 'Blasko' reference (Bela Lugosi's family name) has always made me wonder if 'Lenore' was related. Why her copy of a book on Boris Karloff would end up in Leicester, I don't know.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2017, 10:39:21 PM »
Maybe an incongruous one, from The Hospital Ship, Martin Bax:



...whilst I find this one a bit sad, as Omar didn't seem to think enough of Jo's present to keep it:



Massive fan of these scribbles as well, will try and dig out some other good ones I've got.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2017, 12:09:40 PM »
I didn’t buy it in the end but leafing through a copy of The Diary of a Nobody in the Oxfam bookshop the other day I discovered some little slips of paper, each one sporting a few hand-written musings on the book along the lines of “More wryly amusing than laugh-out-loud funny I suppose” and “the humour arises from the odd situations he gets himself into!”. I found it quite touching and imagined the owner perhaps doing the same for his whole library, all these little personal mementos of his time spent with each book, until he snuffed it and someone bunged the lot down Oxfam.

icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2017, 03:00:52 PM »
A few years back I had a Jonathan Rendall phase, and was trying to get hold of a copy of his book Twelve Grand. I think it was out of print however he'd just died and it hadn't yet been reprinted, so the only copies I could find on Amazon etc. were stupidly expensive. I finally found one for about a fiver I think, bought it, and promptly got an email a week or so later saying they couldn't find it, then when I refused the refund and told them I'd just wait for it to turn up, another saying they'd located it but unfortunately it wasn't in good enough condition to be sold. Smelling obvious bullshit and presuming there was no way they were going to send me the book, I penned a strongly worded reply telling them if it was remotely readable then I'd still have it, fully expecting pissarse excuse number 3, however astonishingly they conceded and sent it to me, and the 'poor condition' was this inside the front cover


And this on pg 145;




Which is quite sweet, doesn't affect the readability in the slightest, but probably did make it unlikely they could get the extortionate resale price that they'd no doubt tried for while stalling me. So cheers Beck and Guy, hope things worked out for you kids and the financial plot being 'appropriate' doesn't mean Guy lost everything on the geegees and had to sell all his worldly possessions, even Valentine's gifts.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 03:11:07 PM by icehaven »

Captain Crunch

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2017, 07:33:20 PM »
Spotted in the Salvation Army today:





I like to think 'Hubby' fucked his way through the entire accounts team before leaving her and giving all her gifts to the charity shop.

Bhazor

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2017, 10:20:30 PM »
My copy of How To Be A Superwally had every swear word underlined and the back pages had a sort of index where the original owner had noted the pages for swears. There was also obvious creasing on the most detailed descriptions of sex.

SpiderChrist

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2017, 09:48:06 AM »
A really quite spiffing recipe for apple crumble.

SpiderChrist

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2017, 09:56:44 AM »
A girlfriend gave me a copy of Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, before she fucked off back to Finland. Inside she noted the chapter and page number to this quote:

“Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

Never saw her again, and I'm almost deceased (and not coming back, with any luck).

Gurke and Hare

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icehaven

  • I will be in the bar, with my head on the bar
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #21 on: October 29, 2017, 10:49:08 AM »
My copy of How To Be A Superwally had every swear word underlined and the back pages had a sort of index where the original owner had noted the pages for swears. There was also obvious creasing on the most detailed descriptions of sex.

At the first library I worked at we had the 'Phantom Large Print Defacer'. Every now and then someone would return their books and point out that one of them had every single swearword or blasphemity scribbled out in pencil. It was always a large print book, hence the moniker, and presumably the work of whoever had borrowed it previously. Once it had happened 3 or 4 times we started the detective work, looking back at the list of borrowers of each defaced book to see if the same name came up, and as it was a very well used but small section we ended up with a list of about 4 or 5 suspects. I think we ended up finding them eventually by checking all the suspect's books on return, and the boss had a quiet word, and it turned out it was someone taking them for their elderly Mother and censoring them before she read them to protect her sensibilities. I know a bit later we had a woman who'd come and take 10 audiobooks every week for her elderly Mother, but if the reader had an American accent or there was a single swear word, off it went, so she'd come back every single Saturday and moan that of the 10, 6 or 7 had been 'unlistenable'. Why the fuck we humoured the sour old cows for so long is beyond me.   

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #22 on: October 29, 2017, 05:53:11 PM »
Found in a hardback copy of "Where The Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein, brought from Oxfam in Walthamstow in 2014.



Note the date of the dedication, 2010. Barely a few years between that and the book being consigned to charity shop oblivion. And yet this obviously meant a great deal to someone, so what went wrong in the meantime?

Pepotamo1985

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #23 on: October 29, 2017, 06:14:23 PM »
Sadly I don't have any pictorial evidence any more but I found a nude pic someone had taken of their boyfriend with the words "blackmail material if we ever break up xxx" in a Henry Kissinger biography in a second hand bookshop once, which I suppose you had to be there for to truly appreciate because it's sounded infinitely less funny and weird as I've been writing this than it seemed at the time.

Back when the Oxfam in Dalston was the best fucking book shop in the entire UK (2012 - 2014), I would frequently find strange things written in my purchases - here are my faves; https://imgur.com/a/4hg6f

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2017, 04:17:23 PM »
After seeing The Grass Arena on TV in 1992 (don't think it's ever been repeated) I tried to buy the book, but it was already out of print. I found a copy in a charity shop about ten years ago for 50p, signed by the author with a dedication "To Pete, I look forward to working with you on that new screenplay, John Healy".

The fact that i) the screenplay clearly came to nothing, and ii) Pete threw the book away is significant in the light of Healy's story that came to light when the book was finally reprinted a few years ago (http://thequietus.com/articles/08889-john-healy-interview-barbaric-genius-documentary)

Spoon of Ploff

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #25 on: November 12, 2017, 11:52:06 AM »
Was shown a copy of Rutland and the Great War this morning (subject matter perhaps for any R Brave Boys threads). The owner had written down and updated his home address on the inside front cover, and blank facing page, every time he moved... from 1921 up to 1972... there must have been twenty addresses at least. You can see the handwriting style slowly change over the decades. Think I'm going to have to get a map and track his progress through 20th Century East Midlands.

Sin Agog

  • Dogs fucked the pope; no fault of mine
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2017, 02:24:03 PM »
When I was an intense teen I used to leave a blood blot on the inside sleeves of books that really got to me.  I think it was some kind of comment about how a good book really gets inside your bloodstream and changes you from the inside out.  I remember going into a charity shop once and being totally amazed at seeing a copy of the Hagakure there (that's the book Ghost Dog's always banging on about).  I then opened up the inside cover only to see my own bloody thumbprint.  Guess I must have misplaced my copy years ago and it somehow wended its way towards a British Heart Foundation two hundred miles away.

Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #27 on: November 12, 2017, 07:41:30 PM »
Was it definitely your thumb?

Sin Agog

  • Dogs fucked the pope; no fault of mine
Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2017, 09:58:18 PM »
No, it wasn't my whole thumb.  I found that inside the tape deck of a ZX Spectrum at a Cash Converters in Skegness.


I do love reading all the birthday or Christmas messages from adoring fathers to their daughter* on their first day of boarding school, or hastily scrawled missives from a casual friend 'as per our conversation at Sandy's last Weds.  Note how Moomintroll is always the last to wake up!  P.S remember to bring the goulash next time'.  They always highlight that Red Violin effect you get of holding a traveled old book in your hands.  I used to actively try to leave my favourite books in public places just for this reason, but then when some of the rarer ones instantly popped up on ebay I got a bid jaded and stopped doing that.


* this is the example I see the most of.  Just like the screencap posted earlier in this thread.  I wonder if in the days of more standoffish male parenting, fathers found a written expression of their affection in their favourite works easier than being demonstrative in person.

magval

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Re: What have you found written in second-hand books?
« Reply #29 on: December 18, 2017, 09:51:58 PM »
A friend of mine found a heartfelt dedication written inside a book in a charity shop in his hometown that referenced a friend of the giftee's who had killed herself. It was intensely personal and reasonably upsetting to discover among the bent Grishams and celeb biogs, not least because he had written the dedication himself years earlier.