The Pages Project

used books
image by Don Shall, via Flickr CC license

Have you ever bought a used book?

I buy them all the time.

I love looking for great books at low prices at places like Goodwill, Thrift shops, and used book stores. I love buying a hard back novel for less than $2 or a recent bestseller paperback for less than a dollar. I also love taking them back to the store again as a donation if I don’t think I will want to ever read that certain book again.

I do not, however, like the fact that I sometimes have to put up with underlined passages, highlighting or even comments written in the margins. Unless it is a book I really, really have been wanting to read for a long time — I usually pass on buying a used book with any markings at all. The marks bother me, probably more than they should.

book ornament

I find myself trying to figure out why someone would underline that particular passage or word. I almost feel like I’m reading someone else’s journal or peeking at their notes or journal without permission.

Imagine my surprise at finding a website called “The Pages Project” that is devoted to preserving specifically this “marginalia.” The “about page” says that “the goal of the project is to demonstrate the layered expansion of meaning and insight that occurs through the marginalia left by ordinary people within printed books.”

photo by Erik Schmitt for The Pages Project


This is the article that led to this discovery: The Message Hidden in Classic Literature: How a graphic designer is paying tribute to marginalized marginalia.


If you have pages to share, follow the steps given under the “Submit a Page” tab.

By the way, a great source for buying good quality used books is Thrift Books. Most books are $2.99 or less and shipping is FREE! They have a pretty comprehensive list of search categories, but for some reason one must check “hide out of stock items” when searching. Why show items that are not available? That makes no sense to me.



Mid-February Weekend Haiku: Singathon and Goodwill

image by davidmulder61 via Flickr CC
image by davidmulder61 via Flickr CC

Feb 15

Playing piano
in the Bayshore rotunda —
Girlchoirs East and West.

Fingers on Steinway.
First MCC gig complete.
It’s where I belong.

image by viewerblur via Flickr CC
image by viewerblur via Flickr CC

Feb. 16*

Goodwill shopped so long
Customer thought I worked there.
Not a good idea!
I would spend more than I earned,
though it would be lots of fun.

Browsing for sweaters:
Cashmere, lambswool, angora.
Cute skirts:  Goodwill finds!
Mutant Ninja Turtle (lunch) box.
Cobalt blue vase with daisies.

*Tanka form 57577

Actually, I’m jealous

AgraceA woman in a thrift shop said this to me yesterday, and I took it as a nice compliment.  “Actually, I’m jealous,” she said when commenting on the friendship she observed between me and my dear friend, Anne, as we shopped in the Agrace Thrift Shop in Madison.

Anne and I had planned this day for ourselves several weeks in advance.  Neither one of us cared at all what we did, but we just wanted to BE together.  I call this “friend time.”  What you do and where you are doesn’t matter.  What matters is having the luxury of time — lots of it — and the opportunity to talk about anything and everything.

After doing a bit of shopping in a fabulous artistic hip fabric store and having a delicious lunch of Indian food, we spied this Thrift Shop across the parking lot from the restaurant.

No big discussion needed. We went inside.

We browsed.  We got separated and found each other several times.  At one point I walked over to Anne carrying a juicer saying, “I think I need you to talk me out of buying this.”  (The juicer was only $7.99 and looked in great shape.  I’ve been considering trying juicing as a means to be healthier, but haven’t taken the leap to buy a juicer yet).

Anne immediately said, “Oh, I can do that.”  Then without missing a beat she went on to tell me several reasons why this one wasn’t that great.  I said, “Okay” and then walked over to put the thing back on the shelf.

A little later Anne came up to me with a small stack of CDs saying, “Will I like this music?”  I looked them over and said yes I thought she would.  As she walked away she said, “Just so it isn’t Wagner” (which made me smile.)

via Flickr creative commons; Ed and Eddie’s photostream: San Francisco Opera poster for The Ring Cycle by Wagner

I hadn’t looked at the CDs so I wandered back there to peruse them.  I thought Anne was nearby so I said, “Anne, how about Chopin and Schumann?  I think you would like this one.”  A woman came around the corner and said something like “Chopin sounds good.”  I looked up and said, “Are you Anne?” — which in hindsight might have sounded a tad bit snarky but I meant it in a friendly way.

Handknit sweaters

A little later I was trying to talk Anne into trying on a cool patchwork sweater. Anne was saying she didn’t trust her own judgement on sweaters anymore since she won an ugly sweater contest with a sweater she owned and liked.  I said the sweater “looked like her” but I thought it might be too large for her, but it wouldn’t hurt to try it on.

At that point, the woman (the same one who responded to my CD question) came by and said she had enjoyed listening to our conversations and our manner of relying on each other’s advice.

Then she said it:  “Actually I’m jealous.  I wish I had a friend like that.”

I was speechless.  My first thought was to say, “We’ll be your friends!” But then I realized that was impractical.  Neither Anne nor I live in that town, and we are making quite an effort to keep our friendship in tact now that we are nearly 3 hours apart rather than just around the corner from each other.  By the time I got through all those thoughts, the woman had drifted away so I didn’t have to say anything at all.

I was (and am) left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  I’m thankful to have a friendship that just by being is noticeable and exceptional in a good way.  I’m extremely blessed to have not just one friendship like this, but several — each unique and enriching.

The rest of the day was great, too.  We went to a fabulous bead shop, then to a practically perfect coffee shop (where we dissolved into tears for just a few short minutes), and then browsed the adjacent “Absolutely Art” store.

Latte swirl2
Latte swirl2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s hoping you have a friendship that could be a source of envy. If you don’t, then open yourself to the possibility.  Invest your time and energy with people who share your passions.

Be a good friend and you will create a good friend.
At least, I’ve always found this to be true.

image from Pinterest