Have you ever found one of your books at a thrift shop?

Stephen Woodfin author pic beach
I recognized the book from this picture.


That’s what happened to me a couple of days ago.

Okay.  I admit it.  I go to thrift stores and search for books.

You just never know what you’ll find.

I’ve bought books on nuclear physics, diet, the history of the Civil War, astronomy, how to train dogs, how to make business presentations, novels old and new, health books, text books, and books on just about every other topic under the sun.

But I had never run across one of my own books on one of those shelves.

I did a double take, thinking for a second I was hallucinating.

Then I realized in fact it was a book I wrote. I knew this not because I remembered writing it, but because I recognized my picture on the back cover.

Or at least it was a picture of a guy who looked like I used to look in a former life.

I took the book in my hand, and immediately one thought hit me between the eyes like a sledge hammer.

Who ditched my book?

I am not proud of that moment.

I am just reporting the facts.

Since I know only about three people ever actually bought the book, I could probably track down the culprit.

Should I?

Should I cold call him or her, pretend to be a rare book dealer looking for a copy of that book and offer them a million dollars for their copy, only to listen to them stammer, “I had a burglary last year and the guy stole all my books.”

Or should I play it the other way. Call the donor as a representative of the thrift store and thank her for her generous gift.

“How did you know I gave that book?” she might say.

“Because the poor bastard signed your name when he inscribed it,” I might say.

Or, I could set aside my pride and take comfort that a book with my name on it, for however fleeting a moment in time, circulated among a reader or two.

No.  I like the “you could have been a millionaire” bit better.

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