My Addiction

Hi, my name is Mike Kanner and I’m addicted to old books. There are few things that I like better than a bookstore that trades in old books.

Any bookstore is good for me, but the chains (what are left) are too antiseptic. If there is any aroma it is either the café with their overpriced coffee or the local homeless hunkering down for the day.

But, a bookstore that trade in used books, particularly old paperbacks. Now there is a place in which I can get lost for an afternoon. That is why I am fortunate to have a local independent bookstore like Barbed Wire Books ( Although there are some new books in the front, the heart of the store are the rack upon rack of retired paperback. I admit part of my love is that when I liquidated my professional library, they took in much for credit, so it is like free book time.

Back to why old books are an addiction. It is because they have character. The mustiness and feel of a used book are like a time machine. I inhale and I am back in the apple tree where I spent summers with a book curled in the branches reading. If I am lucky, I’ll come across notes from the previous owner. Now I have a companion in my literary pursuits. If it has passed through several hands, there is a crowd whose comments provide layers. The same is true for some of the books I have owned since high school. My copies of Starship Trooper and Spoon River Anthology (which is now being held together by string) has almost fifty years of notes and underlined passages.

So, while I like my Kindle (which lets me carry the Bible and the Collected Works of Shakespeare as well as the OED), give me an old battered paperback any day.

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