My close friend is a grad student in Sociology at the University of Toronto. She recently asked for my help in solving a quasi-Missed Connections mystery.
Like many grad students, she makes good use of the university library system (shoutout to Robarts Library!). Unsurprisingly, many of these books have marginal notations and underlining in them. Most have pretty standard markings, but my friend says she’s borrowed several books with the same unusual dots and squiggly line, as seen on the right of the photo below.
Since my friend keeps taking out books previously read by this mystery reader/highlighter, she’s become curious. Who is she/he? Another grad student? A prof? Someone who has taken the same courses or followed the same comprehensive exam reading lists?
In effect, she’s got an intellectual crush on the mysterious previous reader, and she would like to find him or her. This person could be her literary soulmate!
This situation struck as very much as being like the film Amélie, in which the titular character develops a crush on an unknown person, based on a photo album of torn photobooth prints (see below). Can you fall in love based on the physical traces someone leaves behind?
All we have to go on is the marks in the books. This reader could have borrowed these books a year ago, or decades ago – we have no idea (and we expect that the university’s privacy rules would prohibit the library from offering a list of previous borrowers). The reader was most likely in the humanities or social sciences, based on the the books in which my friend has seen this notation: Philosophical Hermeneutics, by Hans-Georg Gadamer (translated/edited by David E. Linge), The Philosophy of Right, by Hegel, and The Mirror of Production, by Jean Baudrillard.
The odds are slim, but if you’re the one who has made these marks, or know someone who makes marginal notations, please get in touch and help us solve my friend’s mystery!