For some, book collecting is like African big game hunting—taking down the animal is pretty satisfying, but the real excitement is in tracking the beast, following it for hours or even days, picking up sign as it melts into the horizon until finally you get it in your sights. Eli is that kind of book collector. It's the thrill of the chase that drives him; once he completes a set or finds a particular volume it's a bit of a letdown.
That's not to say Eli doesn't love books (he owns a bookstore, after all). It's just that collecting them is something different altogether from owning or reading them, something almost primitive and instinctual, drawing on skills that lie dormant in most of us. The book collector's skills are the same that help a man on safari smell his prey in an old footprint or see a clump of fur caught in the bark of a palm tree or simply see the animal in the distance.
These aren't just any kind of books we're talking about collecting. Anyone can procure each volume of their favorite new fiction, or each year's New York Times bestsellers. They're everywhere, and they don't take much effort to find. The kind of books collectors go for (especially collectors like Eli) are hard or next to impossible to find, typically old, and just plain cool.
Exactly the kind of books we've put in this category, in fact. "Scarce & Collectible" isn't just some goofy title we came up with to generate interest; although these books are not technically "rare," and only occasionally expensive, they aren't at every streetcorner bookshop and they're typically titles appealing to a very specific readership (or ownership, if we're going to be entirely accurate). There's plenty here that the more average library compilers among us will find interesting.
As you scan the titles below, imagine you're in some mahogany-lined old bookstore in an old city and that a whispy-haired old man can tell you the history of each volume in his collection. Or just look for the book you're after, it might be there. Whatever you do, give these books a good home and help us perpetuate one of the most exciting and underappreciated sports in the world.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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