Books, Reading, Thrifty Thursday
Comments 26

Thrifty Thursday #1 // The Sea, The Sea

I’m super excited to share my very first Thrifty Thursday post! Thrifty Thursday is a meme run by Sal over at Motion Sick Lit (an excellent book blog – go check it out here). Thrifty Thursday goes like this:

1. Each week’s link-up will be posted on Thursday.
2. Post or talk about a used book you’ve found (preferably in a book store or thrift shop).
3. The book must cost less than $5.
4. Be sure to return for the link-up! Weird or strange books are preferred.

So basically, find a second-hand book for cheap and talk about it!

Considering my book buying ban this year, I’m likely to spend a little more time in my local second-hand book store (obviously I’ll only be exchanging books, not buying them) (or will I?). On my second to last visit there, I picked up a copy of Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea. It caught my attention because I thought the cover was kind of cool, and printed on that cover were the words, “Booker Prize Winner 1978”. This means it could be a hit or a miss (I have a rough track record when it comes to the enjoyment of books that have won this prize), but the only way to find out is to read it.

The book price of the book was bang on $5 (although I’m pretty sure I traded in some books, so it would have cost me less than that but let’s pretend I paid $5). At my local bookshop this sells for $14.99, and on Book Depository it’s $20.47, which surprises me because Book Depository is usually much cheaper than my local, but based on the lower price I’ve made a saving $9.99, which is about the cost of two large coffees for me.

I didn’t really read the blurb of this book before purchased it, but the Goodreads blurb uses the words “weird”, “spectral”, and “magic”, so I’ve accidentally potentially picked up a weird/strange book. Go team me! I’d also never heard of Murdoch before I bought this book and looking at her other work, she’s definitely an author I’ll be on the lookout for in future trips to the second-hand store. I expect to develop a slight obsession with her, similar to the one I have with Patricia Highsmith (remember my love for Tom Ripley?).

A bonus for my $5 (that I didn’t notice until I started planning this post) – a mysterious note is written on the first page. It makes me wonder what the people were like who owned this book before me. One of life’s great unanswered questions.
On this occasion someone has left a note on the very first page for someone else, letting them know they’ve turned the iron off. The inside of a book seems like an odd place to leave a note, because unless you leave the book open on that page, or the reader is about to start the book new, chances are the note will never be seen. Anyway.

The note writer comes across as a little frustrated, as the note begins with “Yes”, like they get asked all the time if they turned the iron off. Maybe they’re a very forgetful person. Really it’s kind of them to leave this note because, as a person who lives with someone who occasionally forgets to turn the iron off, and frequently forgets to turn lights off and lock doors (amongst other things), I get how annoying it is to be the one who always does the reminding. So props to this note leaver for being considerate (even if their note may never have been seen).
Also, they wrote the time at the end of the note – what significance does this time have? Is it the time they turned the iron off? Or is it the time they wrote the note.

Perhaps this is all wrong and it was a just a little reminder to themselves. You know: “Don’t panic when four hours after leaving home you suddenly think you may have left the iron on. It’s ok – you turned it off. The house will still be standing when you get home.”

We’ll never know.

Have you ever found any weird notes (or weird other stuff) in second-hand books?



  1. Pingback: Thrifty Thursday #2 // Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes | bitsnbooks

  2. Pingback: Monthly Recap: January 2016 - Pages and Pineapples

  3. I’m starting to see this meme around, and I’m loving it – I might join in the fun, too. Secondhand books have a character that’s all their own, and it can really add to the reading experience.

    I adore your pontification on the deeper meaning of “yes I turned off the iron” – if you wanted to get really loony about it, you could always imagine it as some kind of subtle spy code 🙂 I haven’t yet found any particularly mysterious inscriptions on my secondhand books yet, but I look forward to finding some!


    • You should join in! I’m making it my goal to only get books with weird notes and stuff in them. It’s so much fun.

      That would be amazing if it was a spy code. Maybe ‘Moscow rules’ like in the Cold War spy novels.


  4. Thanks for taking part!

    I feel a bit ripped off because I haven’t found any notes in books I’ve purchased. I had a few used books of my friend’s grandmother’s that had really neat little practice runs of shorthand, but nothing exciting. Also, kudos on the weird factor.

    I imagine the writer sitting on the phone, on hold with someone from the doctor’s office, a referral and a pencil sitting nearby. A significant other/parent asks them if they turned the iron off, and, hoping to better hear the person on the other end of the phone, this person’s iron-based pleading is waved off, so the asker asks a little louder, a little more aggressively. Finally, having had enough and just wanting to read, the writer picks up the nearby pencil and scribbles “Yes, I turned the iron off.” That would explain the sloppy nature of the note…though the person asking easily could have just gone and checked on his or her own. Laziness, I tell you… That would explain the exasperation.

    Perhaps they were on the phone with a doctor, and “7:25 pm” is the appointment. I can poke holes in my own narrative here, and, sure, it could have taken a darker turn, but that’s what I initially thought of. It’s sort of plausible, no?

    It could be as simple as you point out there at the end, but that’s not nearly as revelatory about human nature and interaction.

    Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! That’s the best story – maybe we should start a new meme: Make A Story From Something Weird You Found In A Book.
      I’ve never been a huge fan of used books (I’ve only started going out of my way to get in the last 6 months or so), but after doing this post I’ve realised how much more they offer than just the printed words in them; I love thinking about the life of the person who had this book before me – I wonder if have anything in common if we were drawn to the same book.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It very well could be a meme!

        I was initially opposed to used books, but the reality of the cost just made more sense for me. You’re right–that’s part of the fun. I had one friend who passed a book around her circle of friends, and she then sent it to me. I was the fourth person to read the book, and then I passed it on to a friend of mine.

        That might be fun–taking a book and sending it all over the world between book bloggers with some kind of log in the front or back.


  5. I rarely go to used bookstores anymore since our local library is so marvelous and has a super-duper ILL dept. I do have inherited books from my great-aunt which contain mysterious scribblings and I don’t believe they are hers. They are intriguing for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Haha brilliant!! I don’t often buy old books because I can never seem to find them for a good price, aka, actually cheaper than new books, *sigh*. I do love to browse through second hand bookstores to look for hilarious notes like the one there. I realised once that I gave away a book to a charity shop that I knew I would never read again but forgot that it was signed! I’m sure whoever finds it will wonder about it because it was personalised. Oh well.


    • I bet that person thought they’d hit the jackpot! I hope to stumble upon a gem like that one day. I find eBay is pretty good for second-hand books, as long as you can get with a decent shipping price. But I’ve discovered a new level of patience I didn’t know I had, because sometimes you have to spend a lot of time looking through crap to find the one good book. But it’s fun (and it smells so nice and bookish in my local!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true! And I love the smell of books too. I like to creep my family out by sniffing books I receive as presents and telling them where they bought it from, it’s highly creepy, I know haha

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Love finding notes in old books. Personally I do not like old ones (except those passed on in the family and when my purse urges me to like them). I have noticed that very often when I find notes in them I buy the book. I like to re imagine the situation in another house and how the note came to be


    • I’ve never been the biggest fan of used books either (for a variety of reasons), but in the last six months or so I’ve grown to like them. Mostly because, like you, my bank account has begun to dictate my preferred places to buy books!
      But it has been fun imagining books with their previous owners. I often wonder whether I’d have anything else in common with that person, since we’ve been drawn to the same book.


  8. I love this idea! I have found so many books with weird things inside them, mostly things they’ve used as bookmarks. Once there was a photo, but I never found out who it was. The odd notes and things are one of the reasons I love old books and second-hand book stores. It’s like a treasure hunt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d love to find a photo inside a book one day!
      You’re right about the treasure hunt. And it’s cool because it can sometimes give you an insight into what a previous reader of the book was like. Receipts would be particularly enlightening.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hehe, I love the note and your analysis. Very thoughtful. I like the idea that maybe they were reassuring themselves the best.

    I hope this one turns out to be as good as the note in the front! Also, hooray for your first Thrifty Thursday linkup!


    • This was the most fun post I’ve done in ages. In future I’m going to be looking specifically for books with weird things inside them!
      I’m pretty confident this is going to be one of the “hit” Booker winners (the only others I’ve read and really liked were Wolf Hall [yay for you!] and its sequel).


  10. This note, and your take on it, had me laughing for a good minute.

    It makes me wonder if somehow this note was written while both the writer and the recipient were in the same place, but couldn’t talk? Like how some people pass notes in class? But that does not explain the timestamp.

    Like you said, we’ll never know.


    • So many questions are raised by just a few lines scrawled in pencil. Who was this person? What did they do? Considering the time, I imagine they work nightshift somewhere. You could nearly write a whole story about it.


  11. I like this idea; maybe I’ll partake once a month.

    I’ve found some odd notes, namely old-style phone numbers and girls practicing their names – perhaps with their beau’s last name?


    • Girls practicing their names, hey? That’s hilarious! Gosh when I did that I did it on scraps of paper that could be obliterated, never to see the light of day. Can’t think of a worse place to do it than in a book!

      I think my Thrifty Thursday will be a once a month thing too, as I don’t go to the second-hand bookstore every week (thank goodness!).

      Liked by 2 people

Write Your Thoughts Here

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

You are commenting using your 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