W B Gooderham has recently published a book called ‘Dedicated To’. This book is a collection of the annotations and inscriptions found lurking beneath the covers of second hand books. Sadly, since I am currently living in Mexico and Amazon.com has yet to reach us out here, I have no way of getting hold of a copy any time soon, but I cannot wait to look inside.
I have been a fan of stories ever since I can remember. We still have bookshelves lined with the stories that I was told and that I read myself when I was too young to have many of my own. As I grew up, I fell in love with telling stories. I joined a drama club and I took part in the physical retelling and communication of stories live in front of audiences. I had fierce nightmares because my brain wouldn’t dare stop telling stories even when I was asleep.
I grew up more, and began to study literature. To understand the art of the story, the science of the story. I also study language and the art of communicating those stories. When I moved to Mexico, my family came to visit and my Dad said to me that he wasn’t surprised that my Spanish had improved dramatically in a short space of time because he knew that I wouldn’t be able to survive if I couldn’t communicate my stories to others.
And for all of these reasons I love the second hand bookshop. For me it is the perfect image of the story. Not the book. The story. Because second hand books tell more than just the story written in their pages. They hold in their chapters the imprint of somebody’s life. The person who owned that book read that story, and in some way, however large or small, it will have affected them. There must be a story behind how they got the book, whether they read and why they let it go. As with any story the possibilities are endless, and we will never know for sure exactly how these stories unfolded. But for me it doesn’t matter. The story lives on in the book, which may pass from reader to reader, generation to generation in a strange immortalising of not just a chapter in a novel, but in a chapter of someone’s life.
For me WB Gooderham’s recent publication offers an insight into this secretive, mysterious world of the dual-story potential of second hand books. And I cannot wait to begin my story by buying it.