So I’m not going to share the book that is #44 of the series for a lot of reasons, the top one being that this is my blog and I MAKE THE RULES, DAMMIT! It’s a self help book and I really don’t want to share what I was reading and why. In case you’re wondering, I’m fine, fit and healthy – I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend.

But I read it, so it’s part of the list.

It’s also an example of the back stories of used books. This one was published in the early 1990s, and it had been read before. Someone wrote in the book, and turned down corners. Based on how flat those folded corners are, I’m betting this book has stayed shut for about 20 years.

The person who read it before me made notes in red pen – a very specific red pen if I can remember right: the old Bic pens with the white body and the cap to match the color of the ink. I used to pop off the bottom of the pen – a little round plug – and play with it when I was bored in class. I went through boxes of those pens when editing papers for school, even though I hated the way they felt on the page – hard and thin. I stole felt tip pens from my dad’s collection when I could, and I now use Uni-ball and felt tips when editing. Seeing that red ink was a flashback to when I was typing on a typewriter, and then our old Tandy that didn’t even have a hard drive.

Anyway, I was supposed to be reading this book for myself, but I started building a picture of this pervious reader based on what check marks she filled, what she had starred, and what corners she turned down.

I don’t know how much good the book will do me, but I was reading about a phase from my past, not my present. I hope she found what she needed because based on her marks, she was very much in the thick of it.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Anonymous on November 14, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thank you for making me smile this morning. I love looking at used books and reading notes someone else wrote and trying to imagine who he/she is — and relating to him/her a little bit. Somehow you almost have a connection with someone you never met. Also I give a lot of thought to how pens write and feel. Maybe it's a writer thing.

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