Josh Spero

Second-Hand Stories
  • Second-Hand Stories

  • Every second-hand book tells two stories: one within its pages and another of the life it lived before changing hands.

    Whether mundane or extraordinary, on a grand scale or intensely personal, every second-hand book conceals the story of its past life. Lives filled with love, loss, scandal and conflict, these are the intimate and incredible stories that author Josh Spero uncovered after tracking down the previous owners of twelve of his second-hand books…

    Tom Dunbabin, a Classics scholar who became a spy, leading the resistance against the Germans in Crete in the Second World War.

    Peter Levi, a priest who fell in love with his friend’s wife.

    Belinda Dennis, a contrary Latin teacher, and Emilie Vleminckx, an equally contrary Latin student.

    And James Naylor, a boy the author once loved.

    Combined with stories from the author's own life – from growing up in London as a poor boy at a public school to becoming a scholar Oxford and later a tutor in Hampstead – and his lifelong love and pursuit of classical education, Second-Hand Stories is a unique memoir that celebrates not just one life, but all the lives connected through second-hand books.

    It will make you reconsider your own second-hand books, the people who owned them and what stories they have to tell.

Josh Spero has had a lifelong love of the Classics, reading Latin and Greek at Oxford. He has been the editor of Spear's magazine since 2010, covering everything from finance and philanthropy to art and luxury. He is also the art critic for Tatler. Before Spear's he was at the Independent and has written for publications including the Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, and the Economist. He is a co-founder of – Britain's first critic-run arts review website – and has appeared on radio and TV around the world to discuss everything from finance to art.

We use cookies on this site to enable certain parts of the site to function and to collect information about your use of the site so that we can improve our visitors’ experience.

For more on our cookies and changing your settings click here

Strictly Necessary


Preferences & Features

Targeting / Advertising