From useful notes to funny doodles, these used books have all kinds of charming features that netizens love.

If you were lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on how you look at it) to pay your way through university, you might know what it’s like to buy textbooks. In the U.S., there are typically two choices: you either pay exorbitant amounts for a single new or used book at your school store, or you take your chances and buy a much cheaper used book online. It’s a trade-off because, on the one hand, you’ll spend a lot of money to get a shiny new book or a book you can see is decent, but if you want to save money and order online, you might get something ragged, with bent pages and a broken binding, and lots of writing and highlighting inside. Regardless of what you might think of the latter, though, in the end, spending less money usually wins.

But Japanese Twitter wants you to know that buying used books actually has a lot of benefits! There are plenty of charms in a well-loved book, between the writing in the margins, the inscriptions in the front, the highlighting, and the doodles. Here’s what Japanese netizens love about them.

1. Unexpected notes can be a pleasant surprise

Have you ever been reading a book for a while that seemed perfectly untouched, and then suddenly you turn the page and see a comment written in the margins? Japanese Twitter says that it’s like an “Oh!” feeling of surprise to suddenly find one. It’s a gentle reminder that this book once belonged to someone else, and that you are sharing the experience of reading it with them.

▼ “I haven’t encountered a book with notes in it for a long time!”

2. They can give you a new perspective

Sometimes, when you’re reading a textbook or a challenging piece of literature, you think you know exactly what it’s saying and that you don’t need any help. But then you read a note, written by a previous owner, that interprets it completely differently, and that shows you that there was a whole other dimension of understanding to the topic. It can be a great way to broaden the experiences of the book.

▼ This note says, “Stocks are a sport. You can definitely win at stocks, in whatever stock you choose.”

3. Their notes are just plain helpful

In addition to getting a new perspective from the previous owner’s notes and highlights, sometimes they are really informative; for example, they highlighted a part that you didn’t realize was important, or their note explains the content more clearly than the book does. You can learn a lot from what the previous owner wrote.

▼ “I already love books with notes from previous owners in them, so I usually go out of my way to buy cheap used books, but I really appreciate the thinking behind the highlighting in this copy of Studies of Animal and Human Behavior. It really makes it easier to understand and remember! Major respect for this person.”

4. The notes make you feel like someone is there studying with you

It helps to know that someone else was working through this book, especially if you’re struggling. It’s like a bit of unintentional moral support to know that you aren’t the only one who had to suffer. Japanese Twitter loves it because they say it feels almost like you’re partners working together on a project.

“I ordered a used book from Amazon, and when it arrived I found some notes written inside. Somehow it feels like I’m working together to read this book with the previous owner, and it’s helping me to get a much deeper understanding of the content…”

5. It’s fun to think about the motives behind the notes

In keeping with feeling like a friend is helping you study, the original owner’s actual method of writing the notes can be helpful to think about. Why did they use this color here? What is the reason behind pointing this section out? It’s an entertaining break to think about why a person took the notes they did in the way they did, and makes you think about the material differently too.

▼ “This is a used book. I wonder what rules the previous owner (probably a high school student) used to determine what color to use?”

▼ “I don’t hate how the previous owner’s thought process remains in this book haha.”

6. It makes you wonder what kind of person used to own the book

This is a similar point to the last one, but in reading a person’s notes and highlights in a book, you can’t help but wonder who they were. Why did they have this book? What did they think as they read it? It‘s sort of like people watching, but with books, Japanese netizens say.

▼ “There are some highlighted parts in this used version of How to Achieve the Dumbest Dream in the World. I wonder what kind of person with what kind of thinking highlighted these words? That’s part of the fun of reading used books!”

▼ “While reading a used book I found some highlighted parts. It touched me deeply to think that this was something a person reading this book in the past might have wanted to keep in their heart.”

7. You can find little gifts hidden inside

People put all kinds of things in books to hold pages; I know I’ve used scraps of paper and old receipts. Plus, a lot of people use books to press flowers and dry out plants. You might find all kinds of cool things in a used book! Plus it adds to the mystery of the previous owner. Why did they leave it there? Was it meant to be a gift for someone? You’ll probably never know, and that’s part of the fun!

▼ This person was surprised to find clovers pressed between the pages of their used book.

▼ This person found a dried ginkgo tree leaf.

8. Sometimes you’ll find works of art

You know the feeling: you’re reading a book trying to diligently take notes, and you find your mind wandering with your pen in hand and suddenly you’ve drawn a cartoon character on the page. It happens to the best of us in even the best of books. What’s fun about reading used books is you get to see other people’s artistic talent! From the good to the beautiful, to the not so much, it’s always a pleasant surprise.

9. They can make us laugh

Whether it’s a funny comment or a silly drawing, finding something entertaining written in your book could be a nice way to take a break from reading and relieve some stress. We fondly remember this example in an English language textbook, but this drawing of Kirby asking for a full tank of unleaded gas is perplexing but pretty funny.

To be honest, I was one of those who kind of hated seeing highlighting and writing in my books, but now I see that it’s actually kind of nice. You feel like you have a study buddy, and it’s like a studious kind of people-watching, plus it can be helpful too. Besides, there could be much worse things, really. In fact, it’s much better than finding unexpected surprises on some other used items. Yeesh.

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Pakutaso