Friday, January 7, 2022

The Secret Lives of Books: Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Jane Austen has a quote, "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." While I do love a good adventure abroad, I often apply this mentality loosely and seek adventure where it may be found right where I'm at. For me, one of the best adventures is what I've just begun calling, "Booklarking". I love finding interesting and uncommon books---all the more better when I find interesting and uncommon things hiding inside them! In fact, I've recently made a commitment to try to leave something behind in every book I finish---a bookmark, receipt, candy wrapper, dollar bill---anything that will delight the imagination of the next reader as so many "forgotten bookmarks" have delighted mine.

I recently found this first edition copy of Used and Rare by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone --- a book about the couple's own booklarking adventures of the 1990s. I didn't happen to look inside the day I bought it but when I went to read it last month, I found it contained a couple of splendid treasures!

I really enjoyed this fun, if a little dated, look into the life of these amateur book collectors. What started out as a hunt for a meaningful birthday present ended up taking the couple on an adventure to learn the ins and outs of book buying and collecting---the thrill of the chase and the self control it takes to walk away from what seems like the perfect book. 

The book was written during the time when computers were just starting to be introduced to the general public for business and recreational use. There were several fun instances where I said to myself, "Oh yes, I remember that." One in particular was their thrill in finding that the library could print their cards right there in front of them (amazing technology, they said!) 

 Usually when I read something biographical/memoir-ish I stop about 10-15 pages in to look up what the author is doing now---especially with a book as "old" as this one. (I graduated high school in 1997.) However, this couple had been having such a great time in this story that I was wary to look up anything on them for fear that perhaps their marriage didn't work out. I would be sad to think of them not continuing on these kinds of fun adventures together. About half way in, I finally couldn't stand it any longer and had to see what they were up to. Sure enough, their author pages seem to indicate they are happy and thriving---I'm so glad. In fact, I was so glad that I actually wrote the wife an email to tell her so. I'm sure I'm on somebody's weirdo list now but rarely do I engage so well with a memoir. ha! 

 Another interesting part of reading this book came with the forgotten bookmarks I found inside. In the front cover was a Barnes & Noble receipt from July 3, 1997. Someone in the Boston, Massachusetts store purchased this as a new release. Later in the book was a very early advertising bookmark for in the days when it was just an online bookstore. Some quotes from the back of the bookmark include: 

" Earth's biggest bookstore." 

"Offering 2.5 million titles (more than 14 times the number of books you'll find in the largest chain superstore), we're sure to have the book you want." 

" has a wealth of information about the books and authors that interest you" (including) ... "Personalized E-mail notification about your favorite subjects and authors." 

 I don't remember the last time I actually bought a book on Amazon but I thought it was sadly ironic that this new and novel internet business was being advertised in this book about all the unique and often family owned book shops of the 90s---the same ones that Amazon long ago put out of business. 

 A second delightful irony is that my copy of this book is listed on several websites as being worth $50-$60. Ha!! I wonder if the receipt and Amazon bookmark add to that value at all? No matter---my book sharing ethics compel me to freely pass this book on to another reader and let them discover all the same wondrous things that I did!


  1. very cool! I love following you on your adventures!

  2. I'll be adding this book to my Amazon wish list! I do occasionally buy books from Amazon but mainly my list is for my they know what books I want to read when buying gifts.

  3. Looks like a fun book to read (like I need more on my TBR list, heh).

  4. Very interesting! I like the idea of booklarking! I learned of a new outlet for buying and selling books -- Pangobooks. I learned of it from Heidi at Torah Family Living. Hubby and I are avid book hoarders, so we need to start culling before we get too old to do it. It's hard to part with them because they are dear friends.