It was two a.m. and I was restless. So I went on a walk with a friend through the neighborhood, nowhere special. On our way home, we noticed a box of books outside a house. Something gold caught my eye. And out of the pile of baseball etiquette books and sci-fi throw-aways was an old, dark green, leather-bound book with intricate gold etchings. The top of the binding was damaged on the spine, worn away to reveal some kind of wooden material. Underneath was the name “Ben Jonson.”
Now I’m not a huge fan of Ben Jonson, but I can definitely appreciate this kind of find. It probably isn’t worth anything to anyone but a book-lover, but inside were yellowed receipts from when the book had changed hands. It started in Boston, and then St. Cloud, Minnesota. The last ones were from California: Promenade Deck Antiques and then Yesterday’s Books. Inside bible-thin pages, written in ink, were names of the book’s previous owners and the corresponding years of ownership. And somehow, this book published in 1853 ended up on a Brooklyn sidewalk. Now it graces my bookshelf as the oldest book I have.
- Kate Conte