Saturday, 30 October 2010

What other people read always

interests me. I find the "returned books to be shelved" trolleys in the library a useful indicator of this.
Of course I cannot be certain that the books have actually been read. I have no doubt that some of them have been taken home because they looked interesting. Once at home other things have gotten in the way or the book simply becomes not as interesting as it was first thought.
There is a great deal of crime fiction borrowed in our largely law-abiding community. Travel, cookery, craft, biography, autobiography are all popular. There are many other topics taken from the non-fiction shelves too.
I spent several hours late yesterday afternoon and early evening sorting books for a "garage sale" at my father's church. I had no idea there would be quite that many when I "volunteered" for the job. It was quite heavy work but it was interesting to see what people felt they could discard.
There are a good many volumes of crime fiction, romance (although not of the Mills & Boon variety), some literary novels and a few straightforward novels - all in paperback. There are many much older hard cover books, novels of an earlier age. If one of the local second hand dealers comes along he will probably take the series by one publisher. They are in excellent condition and they will, no doubt, end up as decor in someone's home. I doubt they have been read or that they will be read.
The non-fiction has proven even more illuminating. There are a great many autobiographies and biographies - but only one about a sports person. There is only one book on soccer and none at all on Aussie rules football. Cricket is represented by a short, light hearted book which the owner told me is "a second copy". There are a bundle of books on skiing, walking and running - all from the same person. There are a great many cookery books and "foodie" magazines. Some are obviously more used than others. The craft books are in good conditon but they have obviously been used too.
One person has hopefully donated an entire encyclopaedia. Perhaps it will go as decor somewhere but I rather doubt it.
There are gardening books, a book on wildflowers in Western Australia, a few religious books, a comic look at Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance and many more.
As I was sorting though the person helping me said, "Hey Cat, take a look at this. Now who could possibly want it?"
There is a fat maroon covered volume. I looked at it. As I was puzzling over it my helper brought out a second volume, a later edition of the same book. We looked at each other and shrugged in despair. Who is going to buy two volumes of the Merck Index?


Rachel Fenton said...

I used to have a thing for decor mags and there was a feature in one of them on how to decorate your shelves to look like you had loads of classics! It was all about covering cereal bar boxes with this and that paper and faff faff faff, and I thought, wouldn't it be cheaper and less effort to just buy the books second hand and then der - why is this feature even there - people aren't going to want to look well read if they aren't going to actually read, surely?

catdownunder said...

I am not sure about that - some people DO use books as decor. (The idea does not appeal to me but someone walked out with an armload this morning for that very purpose!)

jeanfromcornwall said...

I can't comment about who might want the Merck Index (out of date), but I can quite see who might have donated it - somebody who used to need it for their work, and is also one of the best type of people, who is constitutionally incapable of throwing a book of any kind into the bin.

Anonymous said...

Would make a good doorstop! Bob C-S

catdownunder said...

We did not sell either copy of Merck Jean but I did sell a set of encyclopaedia and the two volume dictionary from an out of World Book as well...and some other extremely strange books.

jeanfromcornwall said...

Hey, there's no such thing as a strange book - just one that you aren't, personally, all that interested in!

Donna Hosie said...

I love looking at the titles people read on the bus. Several times I have found myself chatting to total strangers, especially if they are reading a book I loved.

catdownunder said...

I sneak glances at what people are reading on the train too Donna!

I don't know Jean - there were several textbooks about very esoteric subjects. They were no doubt important to people once but nobody wanted something called "The Leu...(something) Count" - although I did sell a new (still cellophane wrapped) copy of "the Asian apartment index 1987"