A Love Letter to Used Books and the People Who Read Them

I’ve thought about this post for a long time and knew I wanted to spend some time talking about my discovery of used books. Would I talk about the stores? Would I recall the fever dream I had where I magically ordered $150 of used books and received 16 books after a few weeks I forgot about? No. This post comes from an unlikely source: my current research and discovery into my spirituality.

Talking about religion can be difficult to talk about. At the very least, you feel slightly icky about it if you have the experience I had. I’m an ex-evangelical (or “exvangelical”) and overcoming some of the ideas I learned in churches I attended has been difficult. One of the biggest reasons is because I do believe the very basics of my faith, but a lot of things I was told I HAD to believe outside of that didn’t show love to our neighbors as we were told to in the Bible. Luckily, I was raised by two wonderful people who taught me that everyone deserves dignity and respect and walked away.

Even so, I still wanted to go on a spiritual journey to figure out what faith meant to me. Part of that has been reading books on faith from multiple perspectives. My current read is Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans after listening to an interview by her. I found a used copy of her book and my discoveries in it have been enlightening. Not only from the writing, but also from the notes from the previous owner.

The person’s name is on the last page and I’m glad it’s a common name so I don’t feel tempted to reach out to them. When you read a used book, sometimes you can get to know them. For example, I wonder why this person put a bracket covering several paragraphs covering a story of someone who left a mega church to create a church based on recovery and refuge. Or why they wrote “literally” over the sentence “So why do our churches feel more like country clubs than AA?” They also underline all the most difficult theological words, write meaningful notes in the margins, and wrote in small cursive, “so God IS good after all” towards the end of the book.

Did they find their faith?
Did they reject it?
Are they okay?
Is their experience like mine?

I used to dislike used books because they didn’t have that new book smell and freshness (if that is a thing I suppose) and I enjoyed going to Barnes and Noble on Saturdays growing up. However, now I believe that books can tell a story themselves and not just from the words printed on the page. I’ve been trying to pass on books after I read a really good one. Whether that’s through recommendations on here or mailing them to a friend or getting books together to give to my mom when I see her again, books can live many lives in the hands of their readers.

So to whoever you are, to the wonderful person that owned this book before me: Thanks for reminding me to look up words I don’t know instead of moving past them. I’ve enjoyed learning from you as you share your journey with me through notes in the book. If you’re looking for another book, I heard Blue Like Jazz would be a similar read and Glennon Doyle talks a lot about these topics. I hope that you found what you’re looking for and I’m optimistic I will someday too.

Until next time…
Happy Reading Everyone!


2 thoughts on “A Love Letter to Used Books and the People Who Read Them

Add yours

  1. Lovely post Katy. Love being able to explore different ideals and beliefs through literature.
    I buy a lot of second hand books and never find notes in them, I feel let down 😔


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