How I Discovered I Am Allergic to Old Books

Searching through a library of six hundred thousand books to find the two thousand books that may or may not have marginalia might sound like an awfully time consuming and fruitless task. However- as it turns out- I had a great deal of fun and learned many things that were previously unbeknownst to me. Initially I had made a list of books that I had found on the libraries data base. After realizing that it was a real pain in the ass to run from one shelf to another to find nothing in the margins of my books I decided to just randomly choose books that looked decrepit enough to have come from the 19th century. After being deceived by many books I finally found two that met all the correct specification and contained marginalia. I slid a rugged, re-bound green book from the shelf who’s spine read “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” written by Thoreau. I was pleasantly surprised to read that the book dated all the way back to 1849 and even more to my surprise the first page of the book contained a message written in pencil. As a member of the undereducated generation I was born into, I had a difficult time reading the script but I am pretty sure the text said “Phil. Islands– Sutey. Arh(???)– Panama Canal (that one I could read)– monroe Doctrine”. I assume this was not written in the 19th century and was just some notes a kid wrote, the book is about Thoreau and his brothers travels through different rivers and canals perhaps the person reading the book was planning his own river travels– who knows, I’m no detective. Next I picked up a book that was falling apart so, of course, it had to be old. The book was titled “REDPATH’S HISTORY of the UNITED STATES”. I didn’t read any of the book itself but on the first page was another pencil written note in script that seems to be some sort of list, probably someone planning out an essay or just organizing their thoughts and ideas. I could make out some of the words but not many. The book is a part of a volume serious on history so I think it is safe to assume that the writing is of some poor suffering kid trying to organize monotonous historic information into a coherent essay. The final thing that I learned is that I am allergic to old books for after about the 6th book I flipped through my eyes were red, my beard itched and I had a cough. This was most likely due to the dust that lined the cover and pages, but who knows maybe old books are coated in poison, the world may never know. IMAG0038 IMAG0040 IMAG0036 IMAG0039




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