On the particular joys of used books

Little Stories

133/365 Two beloved and heavily annotated books of mine. Photo circa spring 2010.

I know I am not alone in this sentiment, but I hold used books in high esteem, often preferring them above brand-new editions. The remnants of past readers feel very special to me. I spend a good deal of time wondering about the book’s former owners, searching for vestigial clues to their identities. I read every annotation, every inscription, every book plate. I wonder if Carol and Judith ended their friendship, and that’s why Judith gave away her copy of The Stone Diaries to the library book sale. I admire John and Betty Connors’s gilt-edged, pre-printed Ex Libris sticker and wonder if we would have enjoyed their company at dinner. I muse about names and dates and symbols. I assess the handwriting, trying to ascertain the age or sex of the reader.

I once bought a very heavily…

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Review—Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay*

Wandering Bark Books

I’m not the biggest fan of nonfiction, partly because it’s what I have to teach in my classes. Also because, a lot of the time, I find nonfiction depressing.

But I loved Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I felt, as I was reading the essays, that I was in Roxane Gay’s brain, and that she was talking to me like she would a friend, and sometimes schooling me like she would a student in terrible need of a reality check.

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Ethiopians Hate to Lose!

Untold Stories


We are slightly star struck when entering the office of the world famous runner Haile Gebresalassie. We’re not here to talk about his amazing achievements as an athlete, but to talk business – his business that is. The prize-money Haile won as a runner has been invested wisely in Africa’s fastest growing economy.

−The economic growth is good news for me and my businesses, Haile Gebresalassie says and smiles. −More money and less manual work in the general population mean more fat people, and fat people come to my gyms to sweat off the extra kilos.

What the 42-year old celebrity is saying is true, even if it is just a tiny bit of the truth. The money Haile makes in his three gyms are quite insignificant compared to what he makes from real estate, car-import, agriculture, gold mining and running of two private schools.

To be in Ethiopia is…

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