My personal library is a final destination for a multitude of used and well-worn books.
Half-Price Books employees used to know me by name. They don’t now so much any more, because poor health has cut down on available funds, and they hire new people all the time. But I have bought a number of books just cruising the Dollar-or-Less shelf. A case in point is a recent purchase of an old book by one of my all-time favorite authors, Terry Pratchett.
You can see why it was only worth about fifty cents. It is all scuffed up and dog-eared from previous owners. Of course, I know how to mistreat a book as well as the next guy, and some of the books I bought bookstore-new long ago look worse than this one does. But that’s not what’s important. The good part is on the inside. You have to put in some effort to get at it. It is an extremely funny and highly imaginative book. Johnny is a kid living in Blackbury, England in 1996 (the present day of the story, though it is about time travel and drifts back to the early 1940’s). He thinks he is just a stupid kid with more stupid-ness about him than he has pockets to keep it in, but he is blessed with an idiot’s ability to think outside of his own head (whatever the heck that means). There just happens to be an old bag lady named Mrs. Tachyon who just happens to have a Tesco grocery shopping cart that just happens to be a time machine (or so Johnny and his stupid-kid friends just happen to believe). Johnny and his stupid-kid friends, Bigmac, Wobbler, and Yo-less (don’t ask, okay) along with the girl Kirsty (who is definitely the opposite of a stupid kid), find Mrs. Tachyon lying in a bloody lump in an alley way, and sort of inherit the shopping cart when they get the old lady to a hospital. And of course, the shopping cart is very unusual with its bags of mysterious wobbly stuff and its resident hyper-vicious cat named Guilty. It soon accidentally transports the kids back to 1941 when German bombs (like the one in the title) are falling from the sky on Blackbury. The very day, in fact, when the street they are standing in is supposed to be destroyed by a German bomb, according to history.
Of course, I can’t help but love any book by Terry Pratchett. But this one is quirky-wonderful and full of surprises. I really can’t even tell you more about it without spoiling something magical. I won’t, however, recommend that you read this book. After all, I had a lovely time reading it, and you certainly don’t need to share in that. I can keep it all for myself. No, don’t even think about trying to find a copy and read it! I think it is out of print anyway. Don’t you dare go to Half-Price Books!
I will continue to read and fall in love with old books. I have a few in my library that haven’t actually gotten around to reading yet. And I have a large number of books I want to read again. Old books are the best books, and I will continue to say that… at least until I have a new book of my own coming out.