Monday, 4 August 2008

Something humbling about having an old book in your hands...

After one of my many trips to London I discovered a tiny bookshop near Hampstead Heath, just off the corner of the Hampstead tube stop (near Paul's bakery on the left of the street exit). You wouldn't even know it WAS a bookshop if you didn't see the shelving through the window.

When walking in the first thing you notice (apart from the musty smell of knowledge), is the fact that the shelves are can't see any wall! There are classic novels, scientific journals, art periodicals, history textbooks and a billion other subjects all crammed into this tiny shop (run by two little old ladies), it'll make your head spin, even the walkways were jammed with books! A definite visit if you want some inspiration or just a good read, especially when there are some pretty decent and rare finds in there. My (very affordable) purchases were a book on Friedrich Nietzsche by J.P. Stern and 'Thinking to some Purpose' by L. Susan Stebbing (from an oldschool series by Pelican books).

There's something humbling about holding a well-thumbed, tatty and worn browned book, (which tells you that it's a useful object, and as we know, useful objects attain more value to them) with an interesting past. You can almost picture in your head the 30yr journey this book has been on.
It could be said that a book is like an analogue USB stick of knowledge and data, easy to share and store. Unlike computers, a book feels more real (aside from the literal interpretation), and bears the marks of age. A book can have a story behind it...who read it prior to me? what impact did this thing have on society? etc etc Cuddling up with a good book and a coffee after a hard days work (or in my case recently a 67 hour day) is in my view a fitting and satisfying finish.

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