For those of you who have been following me for a while, you may recall that a few years ago I undertook a project called 52 New Things.
My concern was that in my retirement, I would become lazy and unmotivated, and the weeks would drift away from me without accomplishing anything. The goal-oriented part of me couldn’t abide the idea that I could reach the end of the year with nothing to show for it.
Hence 52 New Things was born. The goal was to ensure I was constantly stimulating my curiosity and enthusiasm for exploring, discovering, and learning new things – especially if it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. That first year – 2015 – ended in success as I completed 85 new things.
I enjoyed the process so much, I’ve been doing it every year since then. I don’t always write about the things I do, except usually in the form of a post for Thursday Doors, or Changing Seasons. With the attention span of a 5-year-old, I’m often focusing on the next new shiny thing before I ever get around to writing about the last one.
So this is really just a long introduction to a ‘shiny new thing’ I heard about several months ago and completely forgot to put on my New Things List as something I wanted to follow-up. My memory was tweaked this week by Karen at Profound Journey when she mentioned excursions into the city to visit book stores and art shops.
I had heard about this antique book store that had developed a novel idea – a vending machine that dispensed old books. For a mere $2 (now $3), the machine – dubbed the Biblio-Mat – would release a random book to the buyer.
This sounded exactly like something I would want to check out for myself!
So, as I am sometimes inclined to do, I planned an excursion in extreme haste across the city to see what the Universe, via the Biblio-Mat, would deliver to me in the form of a book.
The name of the bookshop is The Monkey’s Paw – a nod to the 1902 story of the classic tale of 3 wishes and the unintended consequences that usually result. It seemed appropriate considering I was about to ask the Universe for a random book. Thankfully, the stacks were very low.
I learned from the owner, Stephen, that the vending machine had been his idea and was developed by a friend of his. It has become so popular, he said it’s practically a full-time job now just to source appropriate books for the Biblio-Mat.
The machine is capable of holding about 90 books, but it tends to operate best at only 25 books.
The books he buys for his store are not what you would find on the best seller list, and according to his website, there is nothing published after 1980.
There is a general feeling of seriousness and dignity when you enter his shop that isn’t evident in the big box stores. I felt like a literary fraud as I perused the shelves.
However, the important question to answer now is – what did the Biblio-Mat dispense for my reading pleasure?
The first book was The Yellow House by E. Phillips Oppenheim. The page with the publication date was missing, but according to Goodreads, this piece of fiction about 2 sisters was published in 1912.
The second book was Clerk of Penicuik’s Memoirs 1676-1755. Published in 1892, it is the memoir of Sir John Clerk, Baron of the Exchequer. According to Wikipedia, Sir John Clerk was a Scottish politician, lawyer, judge and composer. I doubt the pages will be filled with comedy.
So now these slightly dusty smelling books with their yellowing pages are part of my outstanding reading list.
Life is an adventure – even if sometimes it’s only in the form of an old and unusual book randomly dispensed from a vending machine.