L is for Lurking in Libraries (and other Locations)

The letter

brings you today’s post. L is for Lurking.

I lurk in libraries and other locations where lots of books live. Like used bookshops. I find things to read by standing and looking at shelves and shelves of books. I realize that not everyone finds books this way. I’ve got friends who complain that bookshops are overwhelming — they’ve no idea what to pick or where to look or if something is any good. But I lurk and find lovely and unexpected things.

I found my dissertation topic while lurking in the stacks of a major research library. Really, that’s what happened. I didn’t initially use the word “lurk” for the process, but when I described what happened to a prof, he said “Oh, you were lurking in the stacks.” Yes, that is exactly what I was doing. I was lurking in the stacks looking at books on biblical studies. I was working as a research assistant on a project to recover women interpreters of the Bible, particularly women from the 19th century, thus I always kept my eye open for old books. I spotted an old book that said “Trimmer on the Bible” on the spine. I pulled it off the shelf. I was holding a 200-year-old commentary on the whole Bible written by Sarah Trimmer. It turned out that Trimmer was a prolific writer, primarily interested in teaching the Bible to others. Since that was also my interest, I did a little research and wrote a dissertation called “Teaching the Bible with Sarah Trimmer.” Lurking pays off. (That’s Trimmer on the left.)

I also lurk in other locations where books can be found. I said used bookshops above, but any bookshop will do. I prefer used bookshops because they seem somehow more suited to lurking. Inveterate browsers often congregate there. There are three used bookshops within walking distance of my house. I lurk in all of them at different times. The closest one tends to the pricer side, but they also frequently have interesting items. I found Elizabeth I: Collected Writings there. I snapped it up. The other two are next door to one another. This may seem odd, but they are not remotely similar. One is The World’s Messiest Bookshop. Seriously. You cannot beat the place for mess. The advantage is that the guy who runs the place knows his stock. Every single time I buy something from him he has a comment on the book or the author. This shop also has The World’s Longest Sale going on, so I keep going back. He’s got loads of interesting Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Mysteries. The next-door shop appears, by contrast, to be the World’s Neatest Bookshop. This guy’s collection is smaller, but he is selective. I’ve also found some interesting things there.

The most interesting used bookshop I’ve been in recently is only open in the summer. It is called The Net Shed and books are paid for by donation to the Friends of the Meaford Library. They had all kinds of interesting things and a large number of lurkers the particular Saturday 1Mom took me there. It is her favourite source of books.

Where do you lurk to find books?



Filed under What to Read Next

4 responses to “L is for Lurking in Libraries (and other Locations)

  1. I love lurking in used-bookstores!:) There’s a bookstore that is in an old church (Loomes Bookstore, I think) that I love. It has books all the way up to the ceiling, half of which are in different languages and all the books are old and beautiful!

  2. I love to linger in a friends’ living room to see the collection of books. What is on our shelves often tells a story or fills in gaps in our knowledge of others.

  3. Thalia

    I’ve been discovering many prime lurking locations here in Victoria whilst job hunting. I found a basement bookstore with ceiling high shelves and loads of used books and it’s one of the best lurking locations I’ve ever been to! And although new bookstores don’t always work for lurking, Munro’s here in Victoria is pretty good and vastly more interesting than any chapters!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.