In our first year of stewardship at The Corner Stone Bookshop, we’ve been invited to absorb a number of large lifetime collections of books into our shop. Each one has taught us lessons, included treasures, and brought us closer to other humans, sometimes only through their bookshelves.
Books are never just books. They represent choices people made about what they valued, what gave them pleasure, or what they wished to learn. A well loved bookshelf is a marvel. It’s organization tells a story - sometimes of a lifetime. The people we meet are always the best part.
Our first large collection, which my husband and I selected from shelves left by the closing of an online book business, brought us an education about how best to select books that would be good for our customers in our brick-and-mortar shop. We’ll always be grateful for the owner's help as we were just starting out.
The screenwriter from Los Angeles I met in Plattsburgh shared stories of his family with me as we loaded a lifetime collection of mysteries, books on film creation, old Hollywood novels from his storage unit prior to his move to Spain (safe travels my friend).
The Jewish gentleman in Chestnut Ridge, NY whose collection I packed carefully without him, taught me about the way he experienced life. His collection of WWll texts enabled the beginning of a new section in our shop. I know new readers will appreciate the dates he recorded in the front of his books whenever he read, and reread them.
I would like to think we were a bright spot for the German gentleman selling his family home. While we sorted his collection together, he graciously led me through German classics, his professional psychology collection, and poetry, travel memoirs, short stories, and other treasured authors, some of which had provided him with nearly 70 years of companionship.
In our first 9 months at Corner Stone, we brought over 8000 new books onto its shelves in boxes and piles. Some of our new books went into readers hands straight out of the box. All of them have been given a new beginning.
We often say second hand bookshops have the best books - not only because they were once someone's favorite, but also because they come with a story. We commend them to you - from their shelves to ours to yours.