Pandemic Book Browsing

This is going to be the first of (hopefully) a series where I post someone else’s video about their home libraries or a used bookshop browse, or anything that allows us to wander through a room of old books.

Confession time: Back when books blogs were going gangbusters and I had about 100 bookish blogs in my blogroll, I used to do a lot of skimming. No one had time to read all those blogs and still have a life, or more importantly, still had time to read. So I would skim through for interesting bits. This meant that there were a lot of blog posts that never got read. And I was always drawn to posts that were about bookish topics rather than straight book reviews.

The same is true with book videos on YouTube. Except with videos it is a lot harder to skim. Sometimes you can fast forward to see that the vlogger has moved on to another book, but that is pretty inexact and time consuming. Also, so, so many reviews or stacks of new books.

Lately, in our quest for some relief from 11 months of pandemic lockdown, my husband and I have taken to watching YouTube videos of people going to antique shows, galleries, and anything else where we can feel like we are somewhere experiencing something. Never in my life have I wanted to go antique shopping like I do right now. One can buy a lot of stuff online, including antiques or old books, but there is very little satisfaction in that. One wants to browse, touch, smell.

After all those antiques and old houses, the algorithm started to point us towards videos about old books, libraries, and such. And in exploring some of those I’ve seen a few so far that are a delight. Nothing fancy, and focused on the books, not the person. Seriously, so many vloggers of every type and stripe think that their face is what we have shown up for…it isn’t. It’s like someone who gives a PowerPoint presentation and stays on one imageless slide for 20 minutes and then rushes through others slides that have images you actually want to look at.

So, now that I have pissed off the book vlogging world, let’s move on to the first video. A lovely, slow walk through a home library. The video is ten years old and is satisfying in so many ways. Our reading tastes are not necessarily in line, but I love to hear him wax poetic about the contents of his flat.


FYI: I know nothing about the people I will be posting–and since I enjoyed the videos, I’m not about to find out. (Snaps blinders firmly on face.)

18 thoughts on “Pandemic Book Browsing

  1. Jenny Colvin (@readingenvy) February 9, 2021 / 9:42 am

    The #1 thing I want to do once the pandemic is over is BROWSE. I want to browse at the grocery store, the farmer’s market, the bookstore, an art festival, I mean literally wherever. So this is a shared perspective. (I’ve learned to subscribe to blogs so I can more easily skim them – I don’t even have to remember to GO there.)


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:34 pm

      You’ve got that right about browsing. There must be a browsing pleasure center somewhere in our brains.


  2. Mary Arth February 9, 2021 / 11:08 am

    I absolutely loved this. I watched it sitting in my library while the cleaners were busy downstairs. “The books demanded to be incorporated into my domestic world”!!
    Thank you for sharing this video. I would also be very interested in the best of people antiquing.


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:38 pm

      I haven’t really found consistently good antiquing videos. They tend to focus way too much on the vlogger and not enough on the stuff. There are great video segments of about seven minutes each from a British show called Salvage Hunters. I think his early episodes in particular focus on mechanical junk (old motorcycles, etc.) but there are lots of others where her ferrets out antiques and they are pretty satisfying.


  3. lauratfrey February 9, 2021 / 11:18 am

    You’ve articulated why I keep coming back to blogs, even though the tide’s been turning towards booktube for years…
    This is great and look forward to more in the series. Some of those stacks were awfully precarious, I was worried they were going to fall!


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:38 pm

      I think some of his stacks are load-bearing.


  4. Jeane February 9, 2021 / 9:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing that, I very much enjoyed seeing that personal library- the stacks so high! and I even recognized one title I also own- though I don’t read nearly as much literature as this gentleman. I hope you share more videos of similar bent. I’d look forward to it. I so do miss browsing also.


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:39 pm

      I would love to see how many of his books I have, or would interest me.


  5. Geoff W February 10, 2021 / 10:00 am

    I’m sure DC has one, but we always enjoy going to the antiquarian book fair in Boston. It’s always a delight to see the random finds and hear the presentations. Even if I have no intention of dropping thousands on a first edition of anything :-D


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:39 pm

      I’ve been to one or two of them. I think once in Baltimore and once in Atlanta.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay February 10, 2021 / 5:52 pm

    Well that was rather fun. I look forward to more.


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:40 pm

      I’ve got lots more waiting in the wings.


  7. Desperate Reader February 12, 2021 / 12:03 pm

    The thing I’ve always liked about blogs and blogging is that it’s relatively undemanding of my time. Podcasts stack up with plaintive messages asking if I still want to subscribe to them, anything I have to watch is asking for a lot of time that I don’t really feel I have even in a pandemic, and twitter or insta move on so fast it’s just luck if I hit on something interestingly bookish. Blogs feel like the slow food movement of social media at the moment, which is about the speed I can cope with.


    • Thomas February 12, 2021 / 12:41 pm

      The pleas for clicking subscribe are beyond annoying.


  8. Lori February 22, 2021 / 4:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this. Very enjoyable to watch and listen to Duncan’s voice – almost mesmerizing. Looking forward to more of these.


  9. Gail March 12, 2021 / 9:12 pm

    Love to think of this man spending the winter …cozy and reading by the fire. Thanks, Thomas.


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