Thursday, January 9, 2014

Whispers from the Past or Goodies in Used Books

I just found out the other day that I get to attend the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas in February! Having survived this whole polar vortex thing, a few days in the sun with palm trees and desert all around me just sounds too good to be true. Ahem. Pardon my bragging, but this actually does segue into my topic today.

I have been obsessed with Las Vegas since my first visit (which was also at a WVC conference) back in 2010. I'm not much of a drinker, not much of a gambler, and am ambivalent toward strippers and prostitutes, so, you may wonder, why does this boring individual love Vegas? The history, baby. (And the people-watching, too, naturally.)
Today's post is really just an excuse to post awesome retro Vegas pics
I love learning about the old casinos, love looking at retro photographs of 1950s and 60s Vegas, love that style. This is why, when I was visiting my favorite used book shop, The Book Barn, when I was in Connecticut over the holidays, I grabbed a copy of the book: Las Vegas Then and Now, by Su Kim Chung.

As I was flipping through this book the other day, I came upon a bookmark that was stuck between the pages. It was an ad for a store called The Reading Room in Mandalay Place, which I knew was the mall area that connects the Luxor with Mandalay Bay, two giant casino-resorts on the south end of the Vegas strip. In my various trips to Vegas, I do not ever recall seeing a bookshop. Anywhere. So, as one does when one seeks information, I turned to Google. 

As it turns out, sadly, The Reading Room no longer exists, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in February 2008. Still, it was fun to read about and even more fun to hypothesize why such a bookmark ended up in a book that I bought in Connecticut. Possibly the original owner bought it in Vegas, at The Reading Room? Or did the individual happen to have the bookmark from a previous trip and placed it in a book on Vegas because they are creepily organized?
Sorry, last one.
For many of you, I'm sure this hypothesizing is boring. And yes, my leads stopped with the 2008 news article. But this brings me to a larger topic of that neat thrill you get when you pick up a used book and discover a name, a bookmark, or notes in the margins from a previous owner. I delight in such findings. For me, this makes the book come more alive. I'm no longer someone in a vacuum reading a book. I'm someone who's reading a book someone else touched, read, and maybe even enjoyed. It makes the book, the book in the physical sense I mean, not the story inside, come alive.
THEY ARE ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!
I grew up reading used books, so I've noticed many that at the least have names written in the front cover. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll get a date with the name, and occasionally, I've found a telephone number, or city and state. I can also recall coming across a few shopping lists stuck haphazardly between pages. These are like little special gems to me, indicating these books have been read at least once before. It makes me feel the book as had a rich life. Is this weird? Maybe you shouldn't answer that - it does border on anthropomorphizing. At least I don't name my books like I do my houseplants (Archie the avocado tree, I'm looking at you.....)

1 comment:

  1. I've been to Las Vegas twice, both times for WVC... Wish I was going again! Like you, it isn't the drinking or gambling or girls that I enjoy... It's the shows and the scenery and the history.
    Last year I went to the Mob Museum - highly recommend!!! One of the best laid out museums I've been too, and one of the most interesting :) They had a special rate for conference attendees last year.