I have certain books I become really attached too. I know that sounds like I'm a bit of a moon-howler, but it's true. Usually I delay putting these up for sale because I like to look at them and they give me a sense of inner calm (even I admit that it sounds a bit crazy but if you love books I think you'll understand what I mean.) Eventually I get a little stack of them and Tony gently tells me that it's time for them to be put up for sale - he's quite indulgent of my weakness though and says that I should offer them for a price that I will be happy with when they do sell, but without fail, with my special books, I alway have a feeling of loss when one gets sold.
Now you might think that these books are always really expensive, or rare, but that's not always the case, and I don't think that's my motive. Often, it's because the particular book gave me a real insight into its previous owner. When you buy a library of somebody's books, it often gives you an impression of the character, an overview of the person and their life. Booklovers tend to accumulate books over their entire lifetime and when they shuffle off to that great old bookshop in the sky, you can trace their life history, often from childhood to old age by the books that they owned. You can see their lives develop through their library. Shakespeare of course got it right - "one man in his time plays many parts" and it's this I think that fascinates me.
Last year we bought such a collection. The gentleman in question was passionate to the point of obsession, about the life of T.E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia. Not only did he have hundreds of books about his hero, but he also had books on Lawrence's interests - including a large selection of medieval history books - which Lawrence studied at university. As well as books he had film posters, stills and this one huge book about The Making of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Inside the book he had kept all sorts of newspaper articles, cuttings and photos about Lawrence, which he had collected over many years. I like it when people put articles like this in books, it doesn't particularly add to their value, but to me, it makes the book more interesting.
Anyway we sold the book today and though that should make me happy, tonight I feel a bit sad - nostalgic I suppose, for my poor old gentleman and his lifetime's collection which is now being scattered to other collectors all over the world.