I do love secondhand books…

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This is an excerpt from the book 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

14 East 95th St.

New York City

December 8, 1949


(It feels witless to keep writing “Gentlemen” when the same solitary soul is obviously taking care of everything for me.)

Savage Landor arrived safely and promptly fell open to a Roman dialogue where two cities had just been destroyed by war and everybody was being crucified and begging passing Roman solider to run them through and end the agony. It’ll be a relief to turn to Aesop and Rhodope where all you have to worry about is a famine. I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to “I hate to read new books,” and I hollered “Comrade!” to whoever owned it before me.

I enclose a dollar which Brian (British boy friend of Kay upstairs) says will cover the /8/ I owe you, you forgot to translate it.

Now then. Brian told me you are all rationed to 2 ounces of meat per family per week and one egg per person per month and I am simply appalled. He has a catalogue from a British firm here which flies food from Denmark to his mother, so I am sending a small Christmas Present to Marks & Co. I hope there will be enough to go round, he says the Charing Cross Road bookshops are “all quite small.”

I’m sending it c/o you, FPD, whoever you are.


Helene Hanff

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

84, Charring Cross Road – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

This charming classic, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that will grab your heart and not let go.

Copyright © 1970 by Helene Hanff.

More details on Goodreads can be found here.