Voyeuristic Photos of Inscriptions Found in Used Books


Is there anything more intimate than scrawling an inscription into a book that you’re giving to someone? Whether it’s simple a significant date or a personal message, it’s one of those things that you don’t really think about other people — let alone perfect strangers — ever setting eyes on. Spotted by PSFK, Julianne Aguila‘s ongoing Together, As Always project is a fascinating digital archive of the inscriptions that the Texas-based artist has discovered inside of second-hand books that she purchased at thrift stores across her home state.

“Almost no one seems to make any attempt to remove the inscription, even if it was written in pencil,” she explains. “As a result, these books feel like they still belong to someone, as though to own them is to own a stranger’s secrets. The thrill of these objects is their mystery and their unwillingness to let go of the past.” Click through to take a peek at a curated selection of books from Aguila’s growing archive.

Keep On. Image credit: Together, As Always

“Jackie & Bonnie — Keep on the journey! [Illegible]”

Go Away Come Closer Terry Hershey 1990, Word Publishing

This Book Should Stray. Image credit: Together, As Always

“(1) Helen Pistole

(2) From Bernice Xmas 1940

(3) If by chance this book should stray Into other hands some day, Dear St. Anthony I pray, Bring it back without delay. To Helen Pistole”

Rose In Bloom Louisa May Alcott Illustrations copyright 1932, Saalfield Publishing Company

Now You’re Growing Up. Image credit: Together, As Always

“May 2004

Julianne, As a young child, reading Dr. Seuss books were a joy. You were able to use silly words and use your imagination. Now you’re growing up. You will take time to decide what road you will take. You will endure many adventures in your journey. I thought it was really appropriate to end the last chapter of your school years with a Dr. Seuss book. This is where it all began. And look how successful you are at such a young age. I’m very proud of you, you are such a bright young lady. Whatever it is you choose to do I will always be supportive. Good Bless, Peace, Love & Happiness, Aunt Pati”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss 1990, Random House

I Know This Book Is Old. Image credit: Together, As Always

“Kori, I know this book is old and was passed on to me by my mother. / Happy Valentines Day 1973”

Everybody Thinks You’re Nice Doris Faulhaber (written), Fran Keriotakis (illustrated)

It Is As If We Are Just Now Starting Our Lives. Image credit: Together, As Always

“Dear Amelie, It is as if we are just now starting our lives – together, as always. Happy 30th Birthday. I love you so much. Karen”

Ray’s A Laugh Richard Billingham 1996, Scalo

Angel Annie. Image credit: Together, As Always

“To Angel Annie: Live it up! All of your times around! Love, [Peter?]”

The Third Time Around George Burns 1980, Second impression, G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Happy Kennel. Image credit: Together, As Always

“Here’s to a happy kennel! Lots of love! Barbara, 7-1-71”

The Complete Dog Book: The Official Publication of the American Kennel Club The American Kennel Club 1968, Doubleday & Company

GMom & Pa. Image credit: Together, As Always

“To Jon Christmas 89

From GMom & Pa”

I’ll Trade You An Elk Charles A. Goodrum 1967, Funk & Wagnalls

Word Hunting. Image credit: Together, As Always

“Happy word hunting, Love, Melissa”

New Practical Dictionary for Cross Word Puzzles Compiled by Frank Eaton Newman 1964, Doubleday & Company

Gunilde. Image credit: Together, As Always

“To Arthur From Gunilde Merry Xmas Dec 25/1922”

Slicko The Jumping Squirrel Richard Barnum 1915, Barse & Hopkins