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I Bought Some Time Machines From the Thrift Store

by Vaishnavi Srinivasan 4 months ago in list

And it works every single time!!

I Bought Some Time Machines From the Thrift Store
Photo by Dante Candal on Unsplash

What if I told you I buy time machines from the local thrift stores now and then? Each one takes me to an entirely unimaginable place and time, and it works like a charm every single time. One moment, I’m sitting at my desk sipping coffee on a warm Saturday afternoon, then the next moment, I’m in old London or Paris in the 1920s or with the Mughals in India. I can choose how long I stay in that period, live, breathe and eat the food of the locals, wear the local attire, and come back once I have experienced it all. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m talking about books. Old and dusty, having passed many hands, books are my favorite time traveler guides to buy from the local thrift stores. Sure, I love the smell of new books whenever I enter the bookstores or receive my orders on Amazon, but there is something evocative about the old books you find in the thrift shops. Well, here are some of the treasures I bought for less than $5 each in various shops.

The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes Novels & Short Stories - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” - Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four

I found this beauty for $4 and grabbed it as soon as I saw it. As much as I love to see the adaptations of the world’s most famous sleuth on screen, reading the book is a completely different experience. You get to see the brilliant mind of Sherlock as written by his doctor friend Watson in its raw form. It is as close as you can get to Sherlock as intended by his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m proud to say that I have read and re-read all 56 short stories and four novels, with The Hound of the Baskervilles being my most favorite.

Fun fact: "Elementary, my dear Watson" was never used in the original works of the author.

The Man Who Knew Infinity, A Life of the Genius Ramanujan - Robert Kanigel

“They must be true because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them.”

Having had a fascination for Maths since high school, Srinivasa Ramanujan was my idol during my school and college years. In case you’re not familiar with him, here’s a short clip from the movie Good Will Hunting where the protagonist’s genius mind is compared to that of Ramanujan’s.

Knowing that he was born in the same state where I live, his genius and unparalleled contributions to Mathematics instilled a sense of inspiration in me. I'm a working professional now not in the field of Math, but I’m happy I own a copy of his biography, which reminds me of the long-lost love for Ramanujan and Maths.

Oh, and if you’re interested in learning Math concepts, I recommend 3Blue1Brown, one of my favorite Math channels on Youtube.

1984 & Animal Farm - George Orwell

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” - 1984

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." - Animal Farm

If there’s one author in English I love, for the way he uses the language, it’s George Orwell. Orwell has created the most horrific dystopian world, eerily similar to many of the aspects of today’s society. I wonder how he was able to predict and weave such intricate yet astounding stories that shake the very core of the reader. Unsurprisingly, both the books caused a sensation upon their release and were banned in many countries. If there’s an author in the past I could’ve invited for lunch one day, it would be George Orwell.

A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String - Joanne Harris

‘’I see now that there can be no leaving. I am a broken clock, frozen forever at an impossible hour. Let others move on, if they must, if they can. For myself, I have duties to carry out. Sacrifices to make. Stockings to fill. Warnings to deliver. Lives to touch. Like it or not, I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, and I have a job to do.’’

It was an accidental find, but I’m glad of the encounter. As I was going through the old, wrinkly, and dusty book section in the shop, I happened to catch a glimpse of this book and the author’s name. I had previously read her book Chocolat and remembered the feeling of magic her writing brought about. So I picked it up, and it became one of my favorite books I’ve read so far. I even wrote an email to Joanne Harris about how much I loved this book. Guess what? She responded with a note of thanks. The fangirl in me felt so much joy from that single email that day.

Email from Joanne Harris

A little side note, if you don’t mind: I wrote a short story inspired from one of the stories in this book, which became my submission for the Little Black Book challenge. Here's the link for the same.

The list doesn’t end here. I have given only a sample of the priceless gems I found in the thrift stores. I know a few people might consider finding gold or other valuables in the thrift shops as actual treasures, but for me, books have always been the valuables I have truly sought and cherished. They take you on a journey you’ve never been before, and you don’t know what lies ahead of the journey. So, was I wrong in calling books time machines? I leave it for you to decide.

If you liked what you read and would like to read similar articles, I’d recommend starting with this one.

Vaishnavi Srinivasan
Vaishnavi Srinivasan
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Vaishnavi Srinivasan

Writer of musings. Occasional traveller.

See all posts by Vaishnavi Srinivasan

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