I love buying second hand books. Well, I love buying books period. Sometimes though, you get a little extra with an already used book, and I don't just mean that off putting stain on Lady Chattersley's Lover.
I have a copy of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row in which I discovered the original sales slip that showed that the book had been purchased from a bookshop on Cannery Row itself, delightful.
Often the little surprises are more personal things, inscriptions dedicating the book to a person on their birthday, a forgotten bookmark, a photograph of a young couple on a cliff overlooking a beach - they are laughing, scribbled margin notes for exams, underlining indicating sections which had a great magnetism to the previous reader. Best of all would be a Bookcrossing number allowing me to trace that book's reading history. In the copy of Jeffrey Kacirk's The Word Museum I have just bought via Amazon Marketplace there is a small pad about half way through. The pad is an order pad, numbered up to 100, identical to the sort we use in the kitchen, so the previous reader may even have been in the same trade.
Written on the first sheet (which is #85, and I note that the stubs of the other 84 sheets have been cleanly removed, my own pads have a thick ripped cluster of paper caught at the staple) of the pad, in a fairly neat and small hand, are a number of words that caught the imagination of the last reader, clomberskull - strong drink, fantickles - freckles, feff - bad smell, double ribbed - pregnant. The list of words does not seem to follow any particular theme, but it does seem to indicate that the reader gave up on the book somewhere in the mid F's.
I shall use the pad with its notes as a bookmark as I wander slowly through the treasure trove of forgotten and disused words. Will I get further than F ? Most certainly, after all, no duffart am I.