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Nothing has ever compared to the rush I feel whenever I enter a bookstore. Just beyond the heavy glass doors, I see thousands of books stacked together, sometimes even towering toward the tall ceiling. And the smell, how can I forget the smell? They smell like cinnamon rolls.

Last February, I waltzed my way into Booksale. For hours, I was sifting through old books and magazines, looking for Cornelia Funke’s “Inkheart.” It was there, I remember. But I couldn’t find a copy in the long wooden rack of remaindered books.

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I stopped bugging the storekeeper about it. Maybe someone had already bought the book.

I rummaged through a pile of books again, hoping to find good fiction. They were dusty, and I had to sneeze a couple of times. In the world of secondhand bookstores, dusting off is part of the territory. Just like reading, it requires patience.

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I ran my fingers on the spine of each title until I found O. Henry’s short story collection for only P275. I almost squealed. O. Henry is the genius who wrote “The Gift of the Magi,” one of the many stories that shaped my childhood. I can’t wait to read a hundred more of his works and fall for his twists over and over again.

Then I found a copy of Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic Abroad.”

Old issues of Candy magazines were also added to my loot. I’ve been collecting glossies since I was 11 years old, until publishing companies stopped printing them.

Holding them in my hands brought me back to my angsty teenage years. I thought I could get through my life and everything would be okay again. All I had to do was read Marla Miniano’s editor’s note.

On my way to the cashier, I stalled halfway through “Shopaholic Abroad.” Opening the first few pages of the novel was like dipping my toes in a swimming pool. Chilly and tingly. But before I could make a full-blown dive, someone nudged me from behind. It was my turn for checkout.

The yellowed pages of the books didn’t really bother me. These are dents that hold stories from the past. A young girl was perhaps once so engrossed in reading that she accidentally poured coffee on the book pages while taking a sip. Now that they’re clutched tightly in my arms, they become a part of my future.

I know a lot of my friends who faint at the sight of a cracked book spine, but the fact that they’ve been read many times and have passed from one generation to another tells me so much about the grand stories these pre-loved books contain.

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After reaching for the two brown paper bags on the counter, I walked out of Booksale in true Rebecca Bloomwood fashion. The books in store windows speak to me, beckoning me to come again. And cross my heart, after this quarantine ends, I will.

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Winona Sigue, 21, is a fifth year accountancy student at the University of Santo Tomas and a freelance correspondent for Inquirer Lifestyle.

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