Lost and Found: Brookline Booksmith's Used Book Cellar

EXPLORING THE SENTIMENTALITY OF THINGS FOUND IN USED BOOKS.

By Delia Curtis

I crack open the old book, unsticking its yellowed pages. Must and mildew ooze from its spine. Breathing in the scent welcomes familiarity. Sour, yet subtle, this book contains a life of its own with unique characters and places. Books allow us to dive into the unknown and seek refuge from our own seemingly uninteresting lives. They provide color and texture to our worlds and allow us to live millions of others’ stories. The books themselves are given a chance at a renewed life as they wait patiently on shelves of second hand shops for new homes.

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Tattered pages stained with coffee blotches and teardrops reveal not only the life of the book, but that of the owner. Undeterminable looped cursive inscriptions dedicate these books to people without faces. “To Christine Flurry,” could mean just about anyone. Is she a lover? A sister? A mother? A wife? A friend? There’s absolutely no way to ever know, but isn’t that the fun of it?

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

In Brookline Booksmith’s Used Book Cellar, piles upon piles of used books await a curious shopper. Take a peek inside and you’ll find all kinds of peculiar things. Used Book Sellers, Carl Annarummo and Travis Cohen keep a stockpile of mementos that have been tucked away in books and forgotten for what seems like forever. Each week the Booksmith’s Weekly Newsletter, bmail, highlights a treasure uncovered from within the pages of a novel. Some are just bookmarks, forever holding the place of careful reader, others, scraps of paper with hastily scribbled to-do lists full of things that may as well have never been finished.

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Just behind the register, nestled into a drawer, is a little cardboard box filled to the brim with an endless supply of memories. Stray postcards from long journeys, mapping out vast landscapes from the Gateway Arch to the Grand Canyon are smushed between pages of books no longer wanted. Photos of celebrations and memories long forgotten, now in the hands of someone else with no recollection or attachment to weddings and company Christmas parties. To-do lists that map out someone’s day, letting you know exactly what they planned on getting done. Tarot cards marking someone’s future and what the world holds for them are shuffled in between hardcovers. Invitations to Sarah’s Sweet 16, “including a talent show and fun!” beckon a good time for all. A prayer card depicting Jesus Christ reaches out to the viewer with a makeshift speech bubble asking, “Can you put me up for the night?”

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

  Photo by Kai Czarnowski

Photo by Kai Czarnowski

"Just behind the register, nestled into a drawer, is a little cardboard box filled to the brim with an endless supply of memories."

Each scrap of paper you find and every poem scratched into the margins marks the individuality of a book. Whether it be because of something left within a book or something written on the battered pages, those tender bits of a person’s life are a prime example of how well loved and unique a used book can be.