One of the best parts about working in one of the largest bookstores in the nation is seeing the unique collection of used books that comes through the side door on a daily basis. With so many people moving, graduating, visiting, downsizing, and yes, dying, the supply of books at the Strand is constantly changing, and each book tells a story -- one that the author may not have intended or imagined.
The pages people dog-ear and the lines they underline provide a voyeuristic glimpse into their lives. Did she underline this passage about heartbreak because she was going through a tragedy of her own? What does this highlighted passage reveal about the reader's relationship with his mother? I can't help but speculate.
Then there are the actual objects we find embedded in the pages.
Receipts, plane tickets, grocery lists, newspaper clippings, letters, post cards, photographs, sonograms, obituaries, wills, birth certificates, drivers' licenses, social security cards, money -- over the years, I've found all of these things in used books. Once, I even found a crack pipe in a Sartre book. (Seriously.)
After finding thousands of mementos, I decided to start sharing them as a celebration of the lives found both on and in between the pages. Because the beauty of books -- particularly used books -- is that they offer so much more than the stories written on the page; they provide insight into our own lives and the lives of others.
Here is a small selection of some of the photographs we've found in books.
To see more photos and mementos, check out the Strand Tumblr.