Book Inscriptions (and Perhaps the Reason Why I’m A History Teacher)

One of the things I love the most about used books is the idea that each book has a history of its own. You are not, and probably will not be, the only reader of any book. This reminds me of when I pulled up the carpet in my bedroom as a teenager. There was hardwood floor underneath, and in the corner, someone had clearly once snuffed out a cigarette on the floor. The idea of someone smoking a cigarette in my bedroom and burning it into the floor was fascinating! I imagined a young man sitting with his back to the wall smoking moodily in the late ’60s. My bedroom gained street cred in that moment, and I realized that my bedroom had a story of its own and would almost certainly outlive me.

As I was looking through the books at the Book Shelf recently, I was happy to find a few intriguing inscriptions inside the covers. Reading a book inscription is like observing a private moment between two people you’ve never met. Take The Sylvan Path, for example:8e644324-7f8f-4e78-9bee-cea43663de68

Who is Barbara, and who is Mary? Or is that Gary Ferguson, the author?

Another that made me smile was The Bears of Yellowstone.


Inside the cover was this personal note, essentially just a note to self. West Yellowstone and the Book Peddler holds a very dear place in my family’s collective heart. Does anyone happen to know Jim Guber? He read the book quickly, and I wonder what he thought of it.15c18f3d-d18e-4550-bb83-7c02354f83b6

Finally, I laughed when I read the inscription inside Spring Flora of the Wasatch Region. If Gene exists almost any place at anytime, does that mean he’s still here? Any what places are excluded from “almost any place”?



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