Yesterday I went to my favorite used-bookstore to replenish a book I lent to someone and was never returned. I love books. I am very careful to who I lend them to, because I get very attached to them. I highlight them, make notes, doggie-ear them, and truly put them through use. I give a new life to them once they are in my possession. A good book is like entering another realm of imagination through knowledge.
In my previous life and home I had a two-story library made in beautiful wood panels with a spiral staircase to get to the second level. It came with the house. It was the reason I bought the house. I loved that library. I always felt like Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It was an extraordinary room. When it was time to move out of that house in Orlando I had no problem parting from everything. I sold things quickly but when it came to my books, well I had a minor meltdown. For the six years I lived in that house I filled two floors of books. Everything was shelved by authors, subjects, and favorites. It was a book-lover’s dream.
When I donated the majority of the books I had chest palpitations, cold sweats and a sadness that only a mother knows when she’s leaving her children at school for the first time. I brought lots of boxes with me to North Carolina and eventually had to purge a lot more due to the lack of space. I left opened boxes with many novels in the office of our retreat center during the first summer so people could just take them. As each book got a new owner I felt better. These little gems found others to enjoy them. Whatever was left I took to the used bookstore for credit and those rejected I donated to charity.
And so, now, when I enter a used bookstore I marvel at the shelves. I pick up books, open them up, check to see if the previous owner left notes. Those that have highlights or markings, I am immediately drawn to them. As I read them I also think of what the previous owner thought as important. Why highlight this part? What’s this note for? Wow, (s)he had an Aha Moment here. My mind doesn’t just enjoy the words, it is enjoying their past. In pages emotions can be brought to life: tears, laughter, anger, compassion, and so on. You can travel into places beyond the world. A book is one of the most patient inspirations and creations.
There’s beauty in the passing knowledge. Someone held that book, dove into it with interest, took the time to read and mark what touched them spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. They took the writer’s words and divulge their energy and love into studying them. It’s an intimate expression of learning and wisdom. The greatest compliment anyone can hold is to be shown interest in what they have to say. Books are an extension of that beauty. “A book does not make bad jokes, drink too much or eat more than you can afford to pay for.” – Kenneth Turan. A book welcomes you to enter a world, stay for a while and leave with a little more than when you started. It has a voice but never forces you to be like it.
For the thousands of books I’ve read I feel each time that I enter someone’s world where mind and spirit join. The written word is beautiful and that’s what brings me joy. It is a gift that can be opened time and time again.
“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.” Henry Ward Beecher