“You perceive all of these things I’d never have known..”
– The Artist, The Hush Sound
The best thing about Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenges is that it really forces me to look through my photo archives, pick out a photo or two and seriously do some reflection on the things that I did — either on that specific moment when that photo was taken or at any point in this short life that I have lived.
This week’s theme is very interesting: frayed. As I rummaged through my photo archives from my travels this summer, I came across some photos I took when my friend and I visited a secondhand book sale in the Helligaandskirken located on the Vimmelskaftet in downtown Copenhagen. This book sale had secondhand books published recently, and some even decades, possibly even a century ago. I am fascinated by old books bounded in old leather, with their yellowing pages and dusty scent and frayed edges. I run my fingers along the titles written in golden ink, wondering how many pairs of hands have held this copy before over the years and how many curious minds have profited from the knowledge contained therein. I love books.
I get excited when I find myself in a room filled with books as far as the eye can see. After I lost all the books I’d collected since I was child in a misfortune back in 2010, I have been buying books like nobody’s business. Perhaps in some ways I am trying to rebuild my book collection — and I have indeed been trying to track down books that I lost before — but there were still some that I simply could not replace. For example, that copy of Heidi I received when I was listed on the Honour Roll in Class 4 when I was in Ghana International School that had a special sticker on the first page, saying something along the lines of “This book was given to …. for … .” Where in the world am I going to get another copy of that?
I have specific criteria when buying books: they don’t have to be brand new, but they gotta be cheap. I like buying hardcover copies, because these are so expensive in Malaysia. Some of the best books that I have read are in fact secondhand (perhaps even third, or fourthhand) copies of Peter Ustinov’s The Idiot and Irwin R. Blacker’s Taos, which I randomly came across in UWA’s Secondhand Book Shop. I bought these without knowing who the authors are or what the books are entirely about, except for what a partial glance across the summary told me, but once I’d turned the last page, I knew these books would stay forever in my bookshelf.
In Cambridge, my favorite bookshop is G. David’s Bookseller, nestled in St Edward’s Passage in between a church and King’s graduate accommodation. I would write more about this, but it hurts too much to think about Cambridge at this moment, especially when my fieldwork is off to a slow start. More soon!