Book-finding is a pleasure. When something catches your eye for no reason at a used bookstore, or you find a weird volume underneath a park bench, it's easy to feel like whatever you've found was placed there for you. I think we're all closet solipsists like that.
A few months ago I found an old, tattered tome, a musty beast the size of a bible, for less than two bucks outside BMV. Who knows why I noticed it. The cover's the kind of minimalist ugly that people probably liked a century ago. This one has a crude drawing of a hand with a spiderweb of lines charted along the palm. Tell me this title isn't gorgeous: Laws of Scientific Hand Reading. Published in Burma, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, 1962. Sometimes I pick it up and read a few pages. I find it difficult to describe the writing itself, a blend of science and superstition with echoes of some personal narrative in it. The kind of book, in other words, that's made to inspire stories. I hold it dear.
The other day a book of similar portent turned up, an old shorthand workbook, hard cover, for women in the 50s. Someone pasted a little pink sheet with their name on the inside cover. All of the exercises in it had been completed by such an expert hand that I first mistook the cursive for some kind of kooky font.
Someone else saw the book and wanted it.
Breaks your heart when they're prettier than you and beat you to the punch.