Used Books and their Previous Owners

Thursday, April 23, 2015

One of the things I love about used books is when I find something from the previous owner. It could be something like a signature or a message. It's also interesting finding random things they used as bookmarks - receipts are the most popular one I've found! Recently, I purchased a used book from the library. A book published in the 60s, I found the previous owner's name (and address - I wish they would white this out before selling it though!), but the most interesting part was this.

It is a chemical structural formula of.... something. I took many health classes and admittedly, Organic Chemistry was a challenging one for me, but thankfully, I remember some material from it. I know that NH3 is ammonia, but what is NH (Nitrogen Hydrogen)? CH3 means methyl and C is carbon. I am just so interested in finding out what this stands for though, because let's be honest, finding this sparked my curiosity!

Then, there's this beauty here. I found this in an antique shop a few years ago. It is an old journal/class book from the 20s-30s. The book contains handwritten letters, poems, and short stories. However, this is the one that truly got my attention. It is a special poem about a girl and a funeral. It's beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
 If you want to read it in its entirety, I posted about that here.
These are just two examples that stand out to me, but most of my vintage books and old books have some sort of dedication on them. It always makes me wonder what happened to the previous owner. Why did they give away the copy if it was a special gift to them? It's interesting to me how not only the books tell the story, but the copies themselves. What's some of the most memorable things that previous owners of your used books have left for you to discover, whether accidentally or intentional? A note perhaps, a message, or a dedication. Tell me all about it!


  1. There's one used bookstore I go to a lot as a seller and a buyer, and I sometimes wish I had left something in my old books, because I'll see a book I used to own and wonder, was that one mine?

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  3. Oh wow, I love this! I remember most recently I got a book from a used bookstore and halfway inside it there was a note inserted. It said "I really hope you like this book! I want to read it again, so give it back to me when you're done!" I get the feeling whoever was gifted this book did not get that far haha.

  4. Worked in a used bookstore for few years. Yes, always fascinated about a book's personal history. Still keeping a few (hoarder here). :D eb

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