Used Books

by Jacqui

The door of our apartment is constantly revolving. New teachers arrive on a fresh contract, and seasoned teachers leave for long-term travel or to return to their homelands at the end of theirs, usually in such a rush that, inevitably, they leave at least a box’s worth of things behind. We move into empty bedrooms, but every other room is filled with the belongings of somebody else. I’m looking around my room right now, wondering how the hell I’ve accumulated so much stuff in just over a year. But maybe it’s not as serious as I think. I guess I won’t know until I start to pack it up.

In our living room, we have an 18-inch wide relic of a television with two English channels, always at least one rack full with drying laundry, a standing air conditioning unit (of which I consider us very lucky), and a communal bookshelf. Mainly travel and self-help with a sprinkling of sci-fi and mystery, the selection of books in our living room gives a look into the personalities of our mysterious predecessors. I get to read books that I might otherwise have overlooked, like this hilarious treasure of a story. I laughed out loud, cringed, and generally felt more confident with my own set of social skills, as erratic and infantile as they can be. This bookshelf and what it represents is further motivation for me to leave the books I’ve brought and bought behind for whoever might like to read them next.

A few weeks ago, I bought a notebook to add to the shelf so that we could write down tips or memories or jokes if we want to – something to give fresh roommates an idea of who lived here before them. I would have loved to read something like this when I arrived. Who knows. Maybe we’ll end up using all the blank pages for an impromptu game of Celebrity. That would be fun, too.