Inspired by talks with a few friends about the quiet satisfaction of spending your mornings lost in a good book, I decided it was beyond time that I visited the used book market, a vintage book store wedged in between an auto parts garage and an Indian restaurant along the main road that cuts through my chunk of the Ottawa suburbs. Inside, books were piled from floor to ceiling so that there was barely any wall space left, except for a lonely patch of grey behind the dated cash register. What didn’t fit on the endless rows of towering book cases was heaped onto rickety two-storied tables, with the overflow stacked in crooked piles underneath or crammed into beat-up milk crates. It smelled odd, like dust and decay, with the faintest twinge of curry powder.
There was clearly some method to the madness, but with so many titles, categories, entire book cases lined with novels by G or A-named authors, fiction, non-fiction, decade-old best-sellers and tables marked classic literature or sci-fi, it felt best to abandon the white-haired store owner’s well-placed intentions and go on your own adventure. I tackled the bin closest to the door and spent forty-five minutes scanning the dusty, crowded shelf, and furrowing through row upon row of dog-eared paperbacks. In the end, I didn’t find what I was looking for, but did walk away with only slightly-battered copies of Nineteen eighty-four, Neuromancer, and Vonnegut’s God bless you, Mr. Rosewater, for the bargain price of $13.60. I think my grade-school English teachers would be very proud.