Longing for a Sold-Back Textbook

Technically, this post isn’t a journal entry. AT ALL. But, it is a little trip down memory lane. So let’s pretend it’s like posting one of my old journal entries. Sure, that sounds like it qualifies to me.

I was reading a blog entry written by one of my heroes, Louise*. She purchased a used chemistry text book at a sale at BYU that was marked up throughout by some past student. The margin scribblings, smiley faces, asterisks and even a portrait of Paco on page 217, intrigued her.

This got me thinking.

Who bought my Physical Science textbook from my freshman year?

It was almost Christmas break, 1999, and I needed money to buy Christmas gifts. I wasn’t working while in school so for the first time in my life, I didn’t know where I was going to get money from**. So I turned to my textbooks.

My accounting book would fetch me nearly $100. I was happy to part with that one.

I can’t remember now how much I got for returning the physical science book. It was a large paperback with a black cover, but it was what was INSIDE that was really worth more than the bookstore was offering me.

I sold it back anyway, pocketed the cash, and went about buying gifts for family and friends.

So what do you think was inside?

I remember one night, trying to read through the first nine chapters of the book in a few hours, which the average student in the class had been reading THROUGHOUT the first several weeks of the semester, in preparation for the test the next day. At one point, I was reading on my bed in my room. Then I moved to a couch out in the common area and eventually pulled one of the cushioned chairs out onto the small balcony area. My roommates peered out at me from our door, looking through the tall glass windows. So I wanted to let them know how I felt about preparing for this test. I found a blank page at the end of one of the chapters and spent a good thirty minutes carefully drawing a message, in beautiful block printing with shadows and little characters base jumping from the tops of the letters. The messages said something like: I ABHOR TESTS.

Once I finished, I knocked on the window to get their attention, then held it up to show them how I felt. They mostly agreed. One of them didn’t because she was really looking forward to how I scored on the test as she had already taken it and had prepared all week instead of a few hours to earn her B. (I eventually got an A-.)

I had a hard time paying attention in that class. We met in a small lecture hall, but the class size didn’t even fill up half of the seats. I climbed to the higher seats with a little walkway in front of them. The teacher followed the exact same structure every day. Take roll. Remind people what to read for the test. Outline any possible extra credit assignments available in a lab somewhere in some science building on campus. Then, she turned out the light and went through some sort of slideshow for the day’s lesson. At this point, I did one of three things: 1) move from my chair to the floor/walkway and take a nap; 2) attempt to follow along with my textbook, but mostly just doodled in the margins; 3) ate my Granny B’s Pink Frosted Sugar Cookie I’d purchased at the vending machine on the way to class.

My favorite doodle involved Einstein and Newton getting together on a nice lawn under a tree with NO apples one afternoon and having a chat. I think I even included a little squirrel sitting in on the conversation.

And that is the book that I sold back to the BYU bookstore for a handful of bills in order to buy Christmas gifts.

I hope whoever purchased the used book added some remarks that the squirrel could contribute to the conversation. That would be appropriate.

Today, I wish I wouldn’t have sold that book back. I wish I still had my doodles.

What have you given up or lost or sold that you miss?

*I am quite certain that this lovely lady is a hero to many, many people, who she may not even know, but she is MY hero thanks to her help to get me back on track academically and today, I am now a Master. Thanks in part to Louise’s counseling, humor and even letter of recommendation.

**Most of my life, I’d had some way to earn spending money, from the paper route back in fourth grade where I crashed my bike weekly because I wasn’t strong enough to steer it with all the papers hanging in my delivery bag wrapped around the handles, to the six seasons of being a soccer referee—rain or shine, or even to the babysitting jobs that kept me from sitting at home being uncool on weekends.


  1. Found your blog through The Apron Stage. And I absolutely identify.

    In my physical science textbook (from sophomore year, actually), I remember reading in the first few sentences something about science making me, a scientifically-challenged English major, “an explorer.” I wrote something like, “Cue the Indiana Jones Theme…” and my margin notes got progressively more sarcastic as the chapters progressed.

    Until I got to chapter nine or ten (like you) and stopped reading altogether. I’ve often wondered who got mine as well.

    Thanks for the post. 🙂


  2. @Louise – my cartoons are quite as good as yours, but I think you would have appreciated the one with the guy jumping out of the boat and learning about inertia.

    @lisa – glad you stopped by and that you, too, enjoyed science classes as an english major… they’re the best!


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