Last I reported on The Brothers Karamazov, I was on page 14 and fully expecting to give up on the novel, yet once more. But I am happy to report, dear readers, that I am now on page 644, with little more than 100 pages to go. I persevered because, if I can't get through this novel, who can? I am highly educated and love reading more than almost anything else. Also, based on my experience teaching, I am fearful that the skill of reading complex literary works may be dying out.
After the difficult beginning (and the novel is difficult all the way through), eventually one realizes that one is in the midst of a masterpiece. Truly breathtaking. And now, of course, I am reluctant to keep going, because I don't want the novel to end.
As I've said before I am lucky to like reading, and, certainly reading is a frugal pastime. My copy of The Brothers Karamazov is a nice one: it's the newish translation by the husband-wife team who also did the Anna Karenina that Oprah sent to the top of the bestseller list a few years ago. My book is the 2002 FSG edition that has a price of $17.00 on the back. Although I could get this from the library, it is a book I want to own. As it happens, I got it from the library book sale for $1.00. What a gift that someone donated this book!
Even better is the inscription inside the front cover in writing that looks a bit like engraving, a carefully scripted message to the next owner of the book:
Neal Pendleton Library
This book is the first that my beloved wife, Patricia, recommended that I read, after we first met in 1953.
What a wonderful message to me! And I just checked: Mr. Pendleton is listed in the phone book so he still lives nearby.
I love finding things in books. Mostly, I find boarding passes, usually stuck in an early page of an obviously abandoned book. Once I found a book inscribed to someone by the author, who was a few years ahead of me in college! I also found a cache of books that had been owned by a local author of some repute: in the books were photographs, receipts, and more. She was obviously a wealthy woman. Once, in the big Barnes and Noble in New York City (this was in 1977, before B and N stores were everywhere), I bought a used copy of The Crisis of the Aristocracy for a course I was taking. Out popped a receipt from the Reed College Bookstore from a few years before, when I had attended that college across the country in Oregon. And, one of these days, I may write about the inappropriate email sent by an English professor to a student, which she stashed in a book (Terry Eagleton's book on literary theory) that she donated to Goodwill.
Before I return to my book, let me share some other numbers.
Talbots stock: $5.43 (I would have tripled my investment!)
Edmund Andrews's Busted: Amazon sales rank of 63,459.
And so, Dear Readers, have you found anything interesting or surprising in used books?