Magnificent Obsession

It was Friday. I’d been looking forward to it, dreaming of it, actually, for days. I knew what I was going  to do.  No need to announce my intentions to others. I had an itch of a kind that must be scratched.

Let’s just say I was looking for  a companion with certain attributes. I wanted a solid, steadfast presence with some nurturing aspects. I tended to favor the company of a more mature companion, but I wouldn’t discriminate based on age.  Nor would I turn down an adventurous or mysterious spirit. In my mind’s eye I had seen myself, breathless and enthralled, hanging on to every word and moment with my future friend, marveling  at his (or her) genius. And ah, our imagined parting! What sorrow! I wanted to weep in advance, for as surely as I would cleave to the charms of my companion, so I would also seek to avoid our inevitable parting.

This insatiable need I am describing is not new. I don’t mean to be such a user, but if I am anywhere close to my type of friend  I can’t pay attention to anything else. In the end I will take everything the friend has to offer, turn away from it and seek a replacement. Friday was no exception. I was on the prowl.

But  I  couldn’t go just yet. I had to prepare. I showered, dressed, and fortified myself with a light lunch. I would need my wits about me for my journey.  I didn’t bring my camera; I didn’t know if this kind of intimacy was something best recorded on film. You know, the capturing of souls and all that.

In due time, I left the house. My heart was eager, and urged me to travel swiftly toward my rendezvous.  I reminded myself I need not be desperate, that the right companion, or companions, would await me. This was not a time to dwell on imaginary scarcities. There will be an ample supply, I murmured to myself to slow my heart’s acceleration.

When I arrived, I was welcomed into a pleasant chamber to view my prospects. Others  were there, no doubt to choose according to their desired types, but I barely registered them as I reconnoitered the room. Perhaps to prevent frenzied behaviors on the part of the lookers, our hosts had piped in some smooth jazz  recordings which sent an unspoken message,”This is a classy type of  meat market.”

Music helped to manage our obsessive tendencies.

Music helped to manage our obsessive tendencies.

But a meat market it was! Our hosts had scoured far and wide to provide us with a startling array of companions- new, old. short, substantial, local. practical, exotic. cultured, unrefined, alluring, erudite, nondescript. Helpers circulated among the lookers, encouraging them in their choices. No one would have to leave empty handed.

These autographed options stood on a bookcase by themselves.

These autographed options stood on a bookcase by themselves.


You can’t judge them by their covers.

I saw many familiar friends from the past, ones whose beauty and truth I would never forget. I ran my hands over them, willing the fond memories of our times together. I was glad they were available for others. I browsed. I  took my time, moving aside patiently for others, as they in turn did for me.  The atmosphere was so civilized that I risked taking a few  discreet pictures with my phone.IMG_1930


So I can soothe my savage beast at home.


Hello, handsome!

Hello, handsome!

More eye candy.

More eye candy.

I selected carefully, opting in the end for an eclectic  mix of potential friends, returning to the fold those which did not strike my fancy, just as I hoped others would do for me.  I had no idea how long I had been in there, oblivious to hunger, thirst, or any other human need. A glance around the area showed I was not the only one in an endorphin filled haze. Gladly I gave the nominal fee to take my choices home for further inspection.

To each his own.

To each his own.

This kind lady and other volunteers helped me replenish my supplies for the nonce.

This kind lady and other volunteers helped me replenish my supplies for the nonce.

It has been two days. and we are settling in together nicely. I need not hurry to choose a favorite; each one  will share its  treasures with me at my pleasure, as many times as I want. There will be other selections in the future, but these are fine for today. My itch has subsided for the time being, happy with the anticipation of the thrills to come. How about you? Met any fascinating new friends lately?

171 thoughts on “Magnificent Obsession

  1. What a beautiful metaphorical story of your spined friends. I didn’t realize we had new guests in our home.

  2. This was wonderful. Library book sales get my pulse going too. We used to go to one in Chicago – the Newberry Library Book Sale – that I looked forward to more than Christmas.

  3. What a wonderful way to end a week. I love books and books sales. I worry with ebooks that book sales and libraries will be a thing of the past. I hope not!

  4. I really liked your post! I too am obsessed with my books. I have a ton of them and am planning for a library to be built into our new home! Can’t wait!

    • Thank you, Shannon!
      I am truly flattered. I don’t know what “too obsessed with books” could be; it’s a way of life for me! How exciting to have a library built in your home. I’ve always wanted one with those big ladders on wheels! Thanks for reading!

  5. Nice blog!
    I used to only read brand new books with crisp clean pages until the first time I went to a used book fair… now I love the smell of the paper, the crinkled pages, the stains on the cover, and most of all the thought that the same book has given joy to lots of people, not just me.

    • Thank you Shaun!
      I agree with you; used books have it all over brand new ones. Not that I would turn down a new book, of course, having turned down very little reading material in my lifetime. It is added fun to imagine who else has known and loved a particular book, written notes in the pages, and even turned the corners down. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • For me used books are a childhood memory. Summer vacations saw me visiting the library, taking with me the limit of 20 books – and returning those 20 books a week (or sometimes two) later. Could not afford to buy my friends, just asked them to come with me – an offer they could not refuse. Oh happy days of “raiding” the library. This year I will try to read as much as back then – with my 150 + unread books in my flat … A travel not only around the world – but beyond it!

  6. I’ve always tried explaining to my loved ones the feelings of urgency and desperation I have when coming upon a book sale. Will the book I want/need/desire be there? Will there be lines? Will people be pushy?

    Bookophiles sure have quite the unique addiction to tackle 😉

    • Greetings, Siren’s Tale!

      As if we even wanted to tackle our addiction, right??? My heart beats faster even now, looking back on the sale. Luckily there was no pushing, but a few times I did experience the pang of seeing a wonderful book in someone else’s selections. I aim for a Zen attitude; I don’t always get there. Thanks so much for reading!

    • Hello Lily and the Marrow,
      I feel your pain at missing sales; the sale I wrote about was our annual Friends of the Library book sale. The past few sales they have had I was out of town. I made sure I got there this time; I couldn’t endure that pain again. Our town barely has any bookstores left at all. Thanks so much for reading!

    • Good Afternoon Laura,
      I am so glad you enjoyed this post about the MOST IMPORTANT THING besides getting actually read – hunting for book treasure! May we all find the books of our dreams!

  7. I’ve discovered a “kindred spirit”! I loved the way you built up the anticipation for the books awaiting you. I love hunting for books too!

  8. Reblogged this on Unlimited Limitation and commented:
    This was very interesting article to read, one of the most note is “Don’t Judge the book by its cover” happened in this article, I saw many old book from this article but it seems worth to read, and highly recommended, Finally may this post can make some benefits to you, jazaakumullohu khoir.

  9. Ooo, I have such a magnificent obsession too. In fact, i’m on my way out to indulge it now. Thanks for the happy read. Enjoy your new guests.

  10. Nice story and well written! I think books are slowly losing the battle against their technological counterparts, which is a shame… Let’s hope we can inspire younger people to read books too!

    • Hello Jordypama,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments. It is frightening to think that technology could make real books obsolete; that sounds like a sci fi movie! We need to continue to emphasize that while technology has its place, it does not bypass the real thing.

  11. Yeaaaaaa its SO nice to see someone else shares my love of actual HARD, physical books, the library!, and reading…Not too long ago I mentioned something to someone about my library card, right? Even though my actual recanting of the story was funny(or least I thought so lol!) their main comment was, “Wow who still has a library card?” And know how I feel on the topic? Why wouldn’t people have a library card? I guess its just a matter of perspective…

    • Hello Bernasvibe,
      Sometimes one does have difficulty conversing with a non reader. They can’t even dream of what they’re missing. Yes, I love the look, the feel, the smell, and the texture of books – as well as the words! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      • I can so relate..Agreed its difficult to converse with a non-reader…Totally. When we were small my parents taught me & my brother that we could go ANY where in the world we wanted…by reading a book! And from birth there were always books in our house; including 2 full sets of actual sets of encyclopedias..Wow, imagine that. I kid you not it was the IN then back then to own a set of them. Didn’t you just “feel” smarter when studying for tests in the library? I know I did & the kids all considered me & my bro bookworms & nerds back then..yet! we were able to blow the roof off our SATs & ACTs..What my parents knew even then was that reading increases a child’s vocabuluary & stimulates their brains..As a writer we all know now to be a good writer; one has to also be an avid reader. What a sad day it is for it to seem ODD to have a library card. And IF we don’t continue to use the library? They’ll become a thing of the past;what a shame that would be for future generations. So use them or we will lose them…

  12. Love it! My daughter has a similar obsession and I will be sharing your post with her….but most of all I loved your writing style, such intrigue, I thought at first you may be after a puppy or a kitten…..

    • Hi Janey,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Surely you and your daughter share her obsession? because it much better shared! I had fun with the intrigue part, wondering when readers might guess the object of my search!

  13. A wonderful way of viewing books which are, indeed, like friends. And there is nothing better than holding a printed and bound book in your hands – a book that is bespoke to its content, somehow more personalised, in many ways, than the same words as evanescent electrons on an e-reader,

    • Hello Matthew,
      I agree with you. Reading an actual book is a much more pleasant tactile experience, to say nothing of being able to move back and forth to look at photos and maps. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  14. Enjoyed reading this. I had a similar experience in a small bookstore in Bryson City, NC, but there’s no way I could describe it as wonderfully as you have.

  15. Our little library looked just like that almost 2 weeks ago when we had our semi-annual “Book and Bake” sale. People loved it (maybe not to the extent you’re describing here though ;)! Wish we had a separate little room for a year-round bookstore. Maybe we will in another quarter-century.

    • Hello Pezcita,
      Our main library does have a year round bookstore called Second Editions, run by volunteers. Glad your event was successful! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. Oh I just love book fairs. We have them here too and mostly over a weekend where Sundays are half price. It’s always a pickle whether to go the first day or come back on Sunday for the bargain, I usually end up doing both! Cheers Sue

  17. I too am a bibliophile. I have little self-control when I set out to find books at thrift shops, library sales, or at Barnes & Noble. I treasure books as my mother does. Since I was a young child I have been enamored with them, for they all hold their own secret surprises and treasures in their pages. I’ll take a physical hardcover over an “iPad” or Kindle, ANYDAY! It isn’t because I am a technophobe…it is because a book is just that: a book. No distractions. It alone in my hands commands my full attention. The gadgets are rife with rude distractions and silly interruptions.

    • Hi Morguemouse,
      A physical book is the real deal. I do read from the kindle app on my ipad, but it’s not the same; it changes the way I read and process the material. to say nothing of losing out on feeling the actual pages. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  18. I’m obsessed with book sales. We have several every year in my area (Dutchess County, NY). Admittedly, I am horribly neglectful of my books. Not that I induce unwarranted wear and tear. Just the opposite! I can certainly count the number of books I’ve completed (read all the way through) with my fingers and toes. Yet I own dozens of books. I’ve read at least a few chapters in each book I have. I really need to become more diligent in completing what books I have. Until then…I’m still going to stalk the local book sales.

    • Hello One Man,
      Don’t worry about the books. After all, it hurts YOU more than it hurts THEM that you haven’t been able to complete them. See you around at the book sales! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  19. I loved your description – and it made me recall the visit I made to my town’s yearly book sale. I also came home with armloads, and even bought a few for presents – some autographed. Our used books are on sale Fridays and Saturdays but I like to go to the annual sales because the books are spread out and I can browse without as much distraction. A much larger room is used making it easier to see all the volumes.

    I just finished an internship in my university’s special collections. I was in 7th Heaven working in the Children’s book collection where we had books from the 1800s with lovely color plates in the fairy tales, folk tales, and animal books. Now that was love at first sight!

    I’m new to your blog – thanks for a good read and I appreciate Freshly pressed for getting me here!

    • Hello Vickielb,
      You sound like you know your way around a booksale! Weren’t you lucky in your internship to get to be around such wonderful books! Welcome to mindfulmagpie. I am so thrilled you stopped by!

  20. Can u see the joy in picking up a book – finding it interesting- going home and in the cool of the night reading and entering a new world- one full of different things that keep you glued- and slowly slowly it becomes a great obsession. You keep entering new worlds- like peter pan and somehow the books keep coming your way…….Beauty!!! Well well written!!!

  21. Used bookstores give me a sort of happiness that I could not find elsewhere. Finding classic works by Fitzgerald for $2.00, regardless of the condition of the copy, is a thrill unlike any other…Thanks for this fun post!
    Also, I have a new writing blog that I created after self-publishing my first novel for the Kindle. Please check it out and share your writing experiences with me!

  22. I love reading so much that I forget everything in me and around me. Once I start reading I remain oblivious to any noise and I neither feel hunger nor thirst. On reading your rendezvous with your friends, many a time I could imagine myself in your place. I said to myself, woah, this is exactly how i felt. It was wonderful reading this blog.

    • Why thank you so very much, Sanscera. It lovely to be completely transported by a book. Many a night I have refused to look at the clock when I couldn’t put a book down. I didn’t even want to know what time it was.

  23. ~ Congrats on being FP, bibliophile! Reading books is a way to de-stress for me, after working 10 to 12 hrs a day. But due to space constraints at my rented space, I decided to read on my tablet or pc in the office. What kind of books are interesting to you? Cheers! Bliss, The Lurker’s List

    • Hello Bliss Steps,
      Sadly there are times in our lives when it is hard to accumulate books. There is not room for me to list what kinds of books I like – depends upon my mood. That’s why I need a good selection! Here’s to the day when you can decorate with books again!

      • ~ I like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, it is very informative and Paulo Coehlo’s Like the Flowing River. The pieces are short so if you’re always in a hurry, such pieces can be your reading fix. As much as I’d like to indulge myself in a long novel, I am sooo busy at the moment. Btw, if I was able to list the books I’ve read and liked, I’d let you know. Happiest Reading! Feel free to drop me a mail at Tc! 🙂

  24. i love to read. i love to write. the two go hand-in-hand. i love books… like old friends, they each have a story to tell and yes, you cannot always judge them by first glance.
    books make the best friends. i have over 2000 and have read most of them. some of which i’ve read numerous times. some of which i am saving for a quiet time. some i turn to when i need to vent certain emotions. i love the smell of books, the feel of them… they each have their own story. i have old and new. classics and first-editions, re-issues and heirlooms, new and controversial. they’re all welcome in my house.
    a home needs books. just as we need friends. there is no friend more loyal than a well-loved book. they’re the perfect escape. the perfect retreat.
    a home should be furnished with books….

    my lover said ‘buy a Kindle’. but i’ll never venture into the e-book era. despite its name, i find them cold and aloof. books are like old flames. they exude a warmth… a Kindle cannot replace the feeling of holding a new book in your hands and opening it for the first time. the feel of the paper and print. the cover artwork. the prologue and epilogue, and ‘thank yous’ from the author. the smell of a ‘new’ book, the weight of it. its dustiness, its integrity. its persona. the sound of a turning page, or its final closure. a Kindle cannot replace that.

    maybe it’s just me. call me old-fashioned, but i hate the thought of ‘analogue’ tales being replaced by the cold, digital e-book.

    so thank you for celebrating the ‘book sale’. it’s nice to find another like-minded soul.

    • Dear Katmphotog,
      I love what you said about the cherishing the book’s integrity. And I will add its innate dignity. I don’t know what you call anthropomorphizing a book, but books do seem like humans to me. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  25. Pingback: Magnificent ObsessionPosted on May 12, 2013It was Friday. I’d | adikutub

  26. I have a confession to make. I have finally caved in and bought myself a Kindle.
    I love books, the feel of old, cracked paperbacks, and my great delight is discovering a small, side-street based bookshop whenever I am in an unfamiliar place. It’s just all about storage. If I carry on reading at the rate that I do I am gonna have to build an extension in my house. Occasionally I have had a ‘sort out’ and got rid of some books, but then somewhere down the line I end up buying them back. At one point I donated some to a local jumble sale, where my daughters who were helping out sold them back to me.
    “Here Dad, this is the kind of thing that you read.” My donations are costing me a fortune.
    Anyway, I stand here, a guilty bibliophile, purely for practical purposes. Just thought I would share it with you.
    Best wishes to a Magpie from a Jackdaw.

    • Dear Jackdaw,
      I feel your storage pain. Have you tried stacking books several layers deep on your existing shelves? Unplugging and filling that old freezer you never use anyway? Using books as table legs? Lamp bases? A front door?
      Forgive yourself for the KIndle. It is a useful tool for travel, at least for me, so that I do not have to schlep 25 pounds of books through airports. And the additional 25 pounds i would purchase once I arrived!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  27. beautiful write , i do like books i tryed E-Books but didnt get that lovely feeling of paper or the seduction of old paper smell , i often go to second hand book stores you will be amazed.of what lies in there
    thank you for sharing

  28. Reblogged this on Critical Margins and commented:
    This interesting reflection on a library book sale got me thinking this morning about the power of the book as a physical object. Is a part of this lost in the digital age? The more I use e-books, I’d say no, the physical book is still an integral part of my reading experience, and the local library is still where I like to discover books.

  29. Sometimes I feel like a loner since most of my friends don’t really enjoy reading or books in general. Love knowing there are people out there who treasure and have a passion for books.

    • Yes, Andchung,
      Sometimes we seem to be in the minority. But based on the responses to this post I would say we’ve got many kindred spirits. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  30. I am so truly jealous! I currently live in Chile and they do not have these kids of things here which is quite sad when you are someone who likes reading like me. Oh mate, I’d be just so happy an opportunity like that appeared here. Specially because I can’t even have a decent access to books which have been written in English which is my first language.
    Anyways! I hope you enjoy what you got. Also, this was just so beautifully written. Keep on going!

  31. Pingback: Theology and society

  32. Very lovely blog you have. It has been forever since I’ve been to a library sale. I do prefer the real deal rather than the e-books. I’m always on the prowl at estate and garage sales too, the older the book the better! Thanks for sharing!

    • Dear Trina 727,
      Estate sales books are a special thrill, because I feel I have a little window onto the life of the book and its owner. Bittersweet, of course, but prized nonetheless. Thanks for your kind words!

  33. Pingback: Magnificent Obsession | Laced Space

  34. Lovely post. Reminded how my husband and I used to go to music or book stores when we were dating. We would browse at video stores, way back. You can’t do that anymore, even used book stores are getting rare unless you are in a touristy place. We live in suburbia, and we have no music stores, no book stores and no video stores anymore. Instead we do the same things on our computers, but it’s isolating. I miss the days of browsing and meeting new friends. We picked up Ellis Peters and Margery Allingham in used bookstores and counted ourselves lucky. Great memories.

  35. I have to avoid book stores etc like the plague right now – the ‘urge to splurge’ on new friends is strong, but the current friends have to go in storage soon while we cycle the world for charity and then find a new place for the friends to be rehoused – hopefully with a whole room just for them!!!! hubby asked me if I wanted to go in the book store we passed the other day, and I looked at him in shock, with an exclamation of ‘are you nuts? you really want to encourage me to store more books to ship?!’ lol – i cannot wait to settle somewhere and be able to peruse the stores once more!

  36. It’s nice to see others with the same obsession I have. I have always maintained that books are an addiction. Not necessarily cheaper than illegal drugs but they are legal!

  37. Great read! Your thoughts so artfully expressed!
    I have many friends that have come to visit and still remain within my domicile. Parting would be such sweet sorrow, that I dare not say goodbye! That is why I find nearly all such friends at second-hand book stores and yard sales. Thank you for sharing this obsession 🙂

  38. When I saw your title in Freshly Pressed, I didn’t realize you would be telling about the experience of discovering gems in a book sale. How beautifully you describe the anticipation and the joy of bringing home your new companions!

  39. Heaven! To be surrounded with so many books… It will also make me panic and restless because I’d be going around looking for the books that I’d bring home. If only I could bring all of them home. If only I could live in a bookstore, that’d be definitely wonderful. 😀 I often have this sad and happy feeling when I leave a bookstore. Happy to have seen so many wonderful books waiting to be read and sad because I can’t have all of them. *sigh*

  40. i am just entrigued by the idea of having old editions… in perfect conditions… for some reason it gives me a sense that the book has be cherished so much, its preserved so well…
    i frequent one called blossoms on church street here off brigaderoad in bangalore india.

  41. Very nicely done 🙂 And now I need to go find “Singapore to Suez” as that is just the type of obscure topic I’d like to read!

  42. I am addictive to books. When I was 8-year-old, my entire village caught fire in the evening just after dinner. I remembered the first thing I grabbed before running for life was my new school bag with textbooks.
    I could not afford to buy new books in primary schools. I had to recycle old books from my elder siblings. I appreciate the smell of new printed books.
    After I started working and was financially sound, I ‘revenged’ by buying thousands of books over the last 20 years. It is unfortunate that my wife develops a ‘book’ allergy with the dusts accumulated by the books in humid study-room.
    In the local library there is an annual Book Exchange Fair where you can donate or exchange books with others. Last month I donated about 100 books away to clear some room space, but within a week I bought another 20 new books from a book fair.

  43. Pingback: Overheard At The Book Sale | mindfulmagpie

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