The thrill of a book

David Stephens roams around some second hand bookshops, Pics by Aamina Nizar

Books are gradually beginning to lose their magical hold over people. Although at first this might seem like an extremely sweeping and highly improbable statement, with every new Kindle purchased or every batch of ebooks either downloaded or uploaded, it gains an additional bit of weight.

Yet for many of us who have grown up intoxicated with the fresh scent of a brand new paperback or the comforting fragrance of a previously used book, that mystical grasp can never entirely fade away.

One of the aspects of the tangible written word that is most bewitching is the hunt for it. Trudging across whichever part of the world you may find yourself in, in search of a certain book by a particular author, always has that element of excitement and adventure that cannot be replaced by just downloading it online in a matter of minutes.


With this in mind, the Mirror Magazine decided to scour Colombo in search of the places where the feeling of the ‘hunt’ is most palpable; second hand book stores. The first place that drew our attention was a single floor shop, cluttered with various magazines, novels and text books, buried amidst the daily bustle of Wellawatte, called Senanayake Bookshop.

Today, as on most days, Sunil Senanayake, the shop’s proprietor, is seated in his customary position near the back of the shop, surrounded by several small pillars of Agatha Christies, Ian Rankins and James Hadley Chases. In between an occasional quick grin, Sunil is wholly focused on the store and the numerous customers, both the long serving and the curious, that frequent it.

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Mirror (SundayTimes – Sunday January 23, 2011)

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