First let me say I love second-hand books. They're conveniently sold at the place where I work, it's nice to support independent traders instead of bullying corporations, and best of all, they're cheap!
But like dating a divorced guy or taking in a stray cat, sometimes you're bound to run into the darker side of their damaged, worn and sometimes sticky past. There's always dog-ears and maybe a few water-warped pages, but now and then you find something annoying, something weird, or something... perilous.
Often in textbooks or self-help stuff, the previous owner saw every page as a blank public-toilet wall just begging to be vandalized.
|Geniuses use pencil, bitch.|
Not only is this lameness shortsighted (yeah, because you'll own this book until you die and then it'll be buried with you) it's also just WRONG. Writing in a book is like recording your own commentary to a rented DVD. Nobody cares. Get a blog!
The Leperous Softcover
They're falling apart, so well-loved there's only sellotape and hope keeping them together.
|I can't believe this is second-hand.|
You figure there's one more read in them and they're in the bargain bin anyway... but you find yourself compulsively checking that the page numbers match as you read, checking if anything's gone missing while the poor thing was raging against the dying of the light.
The Hidden Horror
Forget the plot, what's scariest about these books is the disturbingly anonymous materials found between the pages.
|For the love of God TURN THE PAGE. WHO CARES WHAT HAPPENS ON THIS ONE.|
Most of the time, you don't even want to know what this is. Tea leaves? Unimpressive confetti? The last owner's dehydrated kidney? The answer would probably horrify you.
The best you can hope for is that this was a fluid going into someone's body and not coming out of it.
|That's... probably just orange juice.|
Like the hidden horror, you're probably better off inventing a happy, non-gag-inducing tale about these marks than actually giving it a good think. You can't handle the truth.
The No Seriously WTF
The second-hand peril that inspired this entire post? HUMAN TEETH MARKS.
Maybe the previous owner was a raging alcoholic. Maybe they were trying to prove some obscure point about consumer culture. Maybe they lost a bet.
|Maybe they just love the fibrous crunch of yellowing paper under their incisors.|
Whatever the reasoning behind it, this book was in someone's mouth, and... They. Bit. Into. It. So hard that the marks persist months and probably years later. That's... just... excuse me while I scrub my hands with antiseptic.
Have you ever had to put a second-hand book down to take an emergency shower or preventative Listerine? Share your perilous – or marvelous – story in the comments!