Bayswater's Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor Blog

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

What is in a Fortune?

     Ever wondered what the fortune meant that you cracked open at the end of your most recent Chinese food meal?  You have come to the right place!

     Our find, a well-preserved Chinese fortune, was discovered in the pages of a 1994 printing of “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy.  Before we go on about the fortune, (and you know we will) it is worth noting that this classic contains all of the books from J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, including The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and the Return of the King (complete with maps and an impressive appendix).  Clocking in at 1137 pages, this could be your next winter read!

     Anyway, back to the fortune.  It reads…drumroll…: “You are almost there”.  

     Almost where, we thought?  What kind of fortune is that?  Not a very helpful or enlightening one.  True, a line such as that could mean that “you are almost there” with your personal self-improvement process, or the reaching of your long-awaited financial freedom and security.  It could also mean, however, that “you are almost there” with regard to going home and enjoying your Chinese food, or that “you are almost there” with the cleaning out of that Tupperware drawer of yours.  Jeez.  Come on, fortune-creating people.  We need specificity, here!

     So, in an attempt to clear up our confusion, we did a little research as to where the fortune cookie comes from and its true intent.  In continuation of the theme of uncertainty, however, we discovered that there are four (count them, four!) different theories as to where they come from and why the fortune’s writings were originally created.  Sigh.  Here is the rundown:

Theory #1:  A Chinese immigrant living in Los Angeles founded the Hong Kong Noodle Company in 1918 and created the cookie, complete with a Bible-based inspirational fortune on it, to pass out to people he saw living on the streets.

Theory #2:  A Japanese immigrant and designer of the famous Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate State Park experienced hard times.  When the tide changed for him, he enclosed heart-felt notes of thanks enclosed in a cookie.

Theory #3:  China was occupied by Mongols during the 13th and 14th centuries.  Because the Mongolian people were rumored to have no taste for the ingredients that make up the fortune cookie, the Chinese people hid messages of revolution in the cookies and distributed them.

Theory #4: The cookies originated in Japan in 1878, as a recently discovered wood block image resembling the grilling of what appears to be an early fortune cookie depicts.  In the photo, the fortune wasn’t baked inside, but rather, it was placed on the outside, pinched between the two ends of the cookie (think of Pacman holding a fortune in his mouth).

     Honestly, you could throw your lot in with any of the four options.  Or, if you’d rather take your chances with the numbers provided on our fortune and play the lottery, here they are: 8, 11, 19, 21, 24, 36.  Just think, buy the right ticket and you could be “almost there!”  If your hands are currently tossed up in the air with regard to the fortune and you desire “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy book instead, it can be yours for the price of $4.99.  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week on the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!  

Sunday, December 8, 2019

May the Long-Time Sun Shine Upon You

     Agatha Christie, Kundalini Yoga, Halloween and a Scottish blessing are all at the forefront of this week’s “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor”. Only in our blog/column could you find such an odd mixture of topics that somehow go together!

     Our discovery came from Agatha Christie’s 1969 novel, “Hallowe’en Party”. One of Christie’s later works, the novel featured the beloved and well-known detective, Hercule Poirot, and the murder mystery that takes place at a Halloween costume event. Though not one of Christie’s most famous writings, “Hallowe’en Party” holds its own as one of the famed author’s almost 100 books - over 75 of which were bestsellers.

     Concealed in-between pages 114-115 was an index card with the following inscription:

May the long-time sun shine upon you, all the love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on.

     Sounds a little like the famous Irish blessing titled, “May the Road Rise to Greet You,” right? Actually, this blessing is Scottish and more well-known for use during the practice of Kundalini Yoga that originated in India. Confused? We were, too, so we dug around a bit to see how a Scottish folk song becomes the closing mantra to a form of yoga from an entirely different culture.

     “May the Long-Time Sun Shine Upon You” is a song (based on the blessing) that was originally created by a Scottish Folk group, “The Incredible String Band,” in the 1960s. Around that time, a man by the name of Yogi Bhajan was busily introducing the Kundalini Yoga practice to the western world and heard some of his students play the song. He liked the song so much that he asked them to continue playing it after his class that particular day. From then on, a tradition was born in the Kundalini Yoga practice, as at the end of each class taught throughout the world, “May the Long-Time Sun Shine Upon You” is played. An interesting mix of cultures, don’t you think?

     We often wonder about the possible scenarios of that relate to the discoveries in the pages of our used books. Was the past owner of this book reading the works of the famous English crime novelist, while practicing a form of yoga that originated in India and closed with a Scottish song? This is a truly an internationally related find, we say!

The 1969 hardcover copy of Agatha Christie’s “Hallowe’en Party,” awaits you here at Bayswater Books for the price of $6.99. You can catch up with our previous finds of the week on the used book floor at and on facebook. Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hey, Book Detective!

Our latest “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” unveiled our first ever plant, or deliberately placed find.  How do we know it was deliberately placed?  Well….you will see.

     The book that held our find is a First United States Edition copy of ‘The Children’s Book,” authored by A.S. Blatt in 2009.  While the title suggests that this novel must have been written for a younger audience, the truth is actually quite the opposite.  The author, six years prior to writing “The Children’s Book,” wrote an Op-Ed article in the New York Times that criticized the writing of Harry Potter due to, in her opinion, its lack of writing for adult interest.  It was easy to see what a child would find interesting about the famous series, she stated, but the books were missing “a real sense of mystery, powerful forces, dangerous creatures in dark forests” and “that shiver of awe” that would be needed to keep an adult interested in the books.  Blatt’s response to her perceived lack of adult content in the Harry Potter series?  What else but the writing of “The Children’s Book,” which contains many magical stories, settings and characters, and is anything BUT a book that should be read for children.

     But, back to our first ever deliberately placed find (that we know of).  Hidden away between pages 238-239, we discovered a folded note card that stated the following message:

Hey, book detective- we’re looking forward to seeing you on June 22.  Good luck sorting through all these used books.

     Hey, book detective, we thought?  Good luck sorting through all these used books?  That sounded like a challenge to us, and someone who knows we spend time sifting through thousands of books to discover the forgotten items tucked away in their pages.  June 22, we asked ourselves?  We love a good mystery, and this had us briefly puzzled.

     Then, we remembered.  Our beloved former employee, Josiah, who had scheduled his wedding for June 22 and invited us, must have donated this book at some point, complete with hidden message, to see if we would find it!  We’ll admit, it took us a couple of months to make the discovery, so no, Sherlock Holmes we are certainly not, but alas, out of the pages of “The Children’s Book” finally fell his “book detective” note/challenge.  Josiah, if you are reading this, we say, well played!  Despite the countless used books that surround us each day, we (eventually) found your note and happily accept the title of “book detective.”

     The copy of A.S. Blatt’s 2009 First United States Edition printing of “The Children’s Book,” complete with find, can be yours for the price of $6.99.  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week on the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!  

Thursday, October 10, 2019


     This week we are celebrating a milestone here at Bayswater - our 50th Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor blog/column!  That is right - as of now, we have discovered 50 books with items hidden in them and shared our discoveries with you along the way.  In honor of our 50th blog/column, we are discussing not just one find this week, but 46!

     Over the course of the past two years, you have heard about items such as tickets, letters, test scores, photos, fishing flies and so much more in our writings.   What we have not shared, however, is that our most common find is...drumroll...bookmarks. We have been squirreling away all of the bookmarks that we have discovered from independent bookstores and our grand total is now 46!  While we have enjoyed watching the size of our bookmark collection grow, it has been even more fun to mark of all of the places on the map where they came from.  Currently, the bookmarks hail from independent bookstores in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, North Carolina, New Jersey, Colorado, New York, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California.  We even found one from a small bookshop in London!

     Unless this is the first blog/column of ours that you have read, you know that what looks like a simple find at first still always winds up telling a story of sorts.  Such is the case, we are sure,  with our found bookmarks across America (& London).  Some are new, some are old, some bookshops represented are still open and upon a brief internet search, we found that two are no longer in business.  Two are Christian bookshops, one is just for women's literature, and another is actually one half library and the other half bookstore.  We didn't know that such a place existed!  Regardless of their make-up, all of the bookmarks have journeyed here with a past of their own that is comprised of where they have been and who owned them previously.  If only we knew the story of each!

     Though we have reached a milestone, our collection will not end with 46 bookmarks, as we plan to continue to compile those that we find and mark them off on a map.  Eventually, we hope to collect bookmarks from independent bookstores in all 50 states and across the world!

     You can catch up with our previous finds of the week on the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!  

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Picking Your Way To Alaska

     Our most recent find of the week is our first that deals with music and the founding of the State of Alaska.  Before you get your heart set on reading about early Alaskan music, however, (and, honestly, who isn't hoping for that?) we will let you down gently and tell you that the two topics aren't exactly connected to each other for the purposes of this week's find. 
     The book that held our discovery is a 1943 hardcover printing of "Lord of Alaska: The Story of Baranov and the Russian Adventure."  Written by Hector Chevigny, it tells the often forgotten story of how the territory now known as the State of Alaska was actually discovered and initially settled by Russia in 1748.  As America and Britain began disputing Russia's ownership of both the Alaskan territory and the northwest coast of North America in 1812, the Russians gave up some of the coastline and began to lose interest in the Alaskan territory.  In desperate need of money after losing the Crimean War in the 1850s, Russia sold the territory to the United States in 1867 for 7.2 million dollars -  a bargain (by today's standards) for a landmass that is roughly the size of one-fifth of the 48 continental states put together!

     In-between pages 196-197 was our discovery - a Sigmund Freud brand guitar pick.  New and never taken off its original packaging, the guitar pick is .7mm thick, making it an extra light, or thin pick.   Less likely to cause tendonitis due to its thinness, this type would have been chosen by a player of a high-quality acoustic guitar.  Believe it or not, the Sigmund Freud pick that we discovered was actually polished for 30 hours to prevent snagging on the strings and overall, took one workweek to manufacture!

     You may be even more interested to learn how the guitar pick evolved to what it is today.  Originally created from feather quills, the composition of the pick transitioned in the 19th century to tortoise shells, or sea turtles, as they were found to be more durable and produced a better sound quality.  If you are wondering if the harvesting of tortoise shells for such a purpose helped to land the reptile on the endangered species list, you would be correct!  In fact, it is now illegal to manufacture anything from tortoise shell and any existing picks made from such material require documentation that affirms their antique status.  If you look to purchase a pick today, you have over 50 different shapes to choose from and you are most likely to find one made of celluloid, (a form of plastic) though you can still purchase some that are composed of bone, graphite, ceramic, animal horn, copper, brass and rubber.  Be sure to file this info away somewhere permanent in your brain for later use when attempting to impress the guitarist in your life!

     Chevigny's "Lord of Alaska: The Story of Baranov and the Russian Adventure" and the Sigmund Freud pick can be purchased for 7.2 million dollars - ahem...we mean, $4.99.  Ok, ok, they are not quite worth what Alaska was in 1867!  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week on the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!  

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Before You Used to Shop Online

     Our 6th annual used book sale took place last weekend and in preparation, we found ourselves going through countless boxes of used books.  It was from one of those boxes that our most recent find was unearthed.  All of this digging around in and among used books makes us sound like archeologists of sorts, (the literary type) we like to think.

     The book was a 1962 printing of "Hitler, A Study in Tyranny" and detailed the dictator's rise from his formative years to becoming Chancellor and, finally, Warlord.  Originally printed just 10 years after the Nuremburg trials took place in 1945-1946, the book used the evidence provided during the trials to provide one of the first comprehensive, in-depth looks at how Hitler rose to power.  Though, as we know, Hitler was never prosecuted due to his suicide in 1945, (only seven months before the trials were set to begin) according to, over 185 people were indicted for their crimes, providing countless first-hand testimony and evidence regarding the dictator's rise (and fall) for future use and study.

     Lodged in one of the pages was a brochure from  We almost overlooked it, to be honest, as we sometimes see brochures stuck in our used books.  Just as we were about to toss it aside, however, we wondered…since when does Amazon, the internet conglomerate, print tri-fold brochures to advertise their bookselling services?  It seemed odd and antiquated.  Upon further examination, it became clear that the brochure was from the earliest days of Amazon, roughly 1994, (which, unbelievably, is already 25 years ago!) when the company was initially founded and the internet was just beginning to be thought of as a place to purchase items.  Let us explain further.

     Amazon, which is now the world’s largest online retailer, began when founder, Jeff Bezos, saw an opportunity to use the newly forming internet revolution to help sell a product.  He did some research, quit his job and decided that his company, Amazon, would sell books online and do so in a way that most had not thought of – the books could be purchased via the internet while one stayed in the comfort of their own home!  The brochure touts the ability to discover titles, “without leaving your home or office” while also offering the ability to purchase them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  While most of us take the ability to do these things for granted now, it appears that Amazon actually printed brochures and distributed them to help people understand what their newly-formed company does and how the process of online book buying works.  Can you imagine Amazon printing a brochure now to help spread the word that they exist?  I think it is safe to say that those days are gone for good.

     The “Hitler, A Study in Tyranny” book and early Amazon brochure find can both be yours for $4.99.  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Celebrity Sighting?

     Our “Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor” seemed like a simple find at first, but then we took a closer look and wondered just who, exactly, left this discovery in the pages of a used book?  Could we have a celebrity connection, here?

     In our book, a nondescript paperback copy of novelist Sandra Brown’s “The Crush” published in 2002, we found an airline ticket stub.  While at first that may not seem very exciting, when we read the name of the ticket owner, we started to change our minds.  The ticket holder was named Cheryl Burke.  Sound familiar to you?  Probably because, for the past 21 years, Burke has made a name for herself as a professional ballroom and Latin dancer on the hit show, “Dancing with the Stars”.  A multiple season winner and touring dancer since she was 13, Burke is now 35 year-old national celebrity with her own line of clothing.  

     So, what makes us think that this ticket belonged to THE Cheryl Burke?  Well, to be truthful, we cannot be certain, as we are not privy to Burke’s every movements (much to her relief, we are sure).  Here is what we know:  the Cheryl Burke who used this ticket (we prefer to think of her as THE Cheryl Burke, but we will stick with just Cheryl Burke for a moment) traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina on her way to Phoenix, Arizona, on January 8 via American Airlines.  We know, we know - you are wondering the year and we are, too!  Unfortunately, airline tickets rarely state the year on them (don’t the airlines know that they are impeding our investigative progress?) and so we are left without an answer, there, too.

     If our past blogs/columns have given you any indication, you probably know that we love a good story and little speculation regarding our finds, so for our fun-filled purposes, we are going to assume that this ticket belonged to THE Cheryl Burke.  Why not, right?  Maybe she was traveling to a dance touring stop, an event for Dancing with the Stars, or perhaps even a QVC filming engagement for her new line of clothing.  It could be true.  Can any of us prove otherwise?  We think not.  Now, if for some reason, THE Cheryl Burke is reading this right now, (and why wouldn’t she be?) Cheryl, we are talking to you: give us a shout out at and let us know if this ticket is yours! Too many mysteries (too much fun) and not enough time, we say!

     The Sandra Brown book and ticket find can both be yours for a grand total of $2.99.  You can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by the store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!