“If you want a new idea, read an old book.” ~origin unknown
It’s incredible the amount of history, biography, knowledge, and wisdom packed into all of the books in the world. Most of this wisdom is lost in the simple fact that many of these books may rarely ever be opened again. With the increased sourcing of information from internet, electronic and digital platforms an inevitable regurgitation loop begins to form. Cultural hegemony and contemporary trends drive the flow and direction of available news and information. Search engines put artificial limits on the expanses of where you can gather new ideas because their algorithms are built for returning popular or paid results. We’re limited and bound by this digital archive design. At some point the only way to seek out a new idea is to look for them where you would least expect – in the dusty pages of time.
Book collecting can be a rewarding and profitable hobby. It’s a hobby that I’ve just recently begun to slowly enjoy. Though many collectors obsess over spine conditions and first editions, I prefer to carefully open the books and read them. There is something enchanting about reading the same original words on a page that someone else read generations ago. Old books have that antiquated smell and feel, and the illustrations are often intricately detailed with careful design.
I love to set aside a few quiet hours, carefully flip through the pages and find myself intrigued by the thoughts of an author from another century. What surprises me is the timeless qualities of humanity, the things that never seem to change. The aspects of wisdom that hold true today as much as they did when they were first written down. The poems that touch your heart and stories that thrill your mind. You find that their commentary on the days that they lived in are often still relevant to the challenges and struggles of today. Truly we could learn a lot from the authors of old. There have been brilliant solutions forgotten and generations of wisdom lost hidden in these old dusty books.
Personally, I prefer non-fiction. Most of the fiction classics are still being published today; however, non-fiction publications more often expire leaving only the aged and limited copies. In my small but growing collection I have old books on sociology, philosophy, economics, recipes, traditions, and war stories. Sometimes I just pick one up, thumb through random pages, and see what interesting concepts and stories I find.
Where do you find these faded & ragged books? You can begin your journey seeking out these treasures of time in Used Book Stores, Antique Stores, Thrift Stores, and Garage Sales. If you want to find something more specific, I highly recommend AbeBooks.com which connects your search to independent book sellers around the world. I have found rare books on specific subjects very successfully using this website.
Why not seek out a new idea for something you’ve been searching for? Get off the search engines, and start browsing the dusty bookshelves for a change. You may be pleasantly rewarded with a completely new thought for your musings.