Monday, May 2, 2016

The Books of the Dead

When I'm walking around bookstores - particularly second-hand bookstores - I wonder how many of these books came from deceased estates. How many families had the painful task of going through somebody's library of books, looked at which ones they wanted, put them up for sale at the garage sale (or two) and then... when they wouldn't sell there... brought them into the second-hand bookstore to trade them in.

The books that are preloved often make me wonder how long they've been sitting on another person's shelf waiting to be read, or were read many times over by that person - lovingly handled and enjoyed by that person because they enjoyed that particular author - and were now haunting the shelves of a cluttered old bookstore with many other copies of the same title from who-knows-where.

When I pick up a book from a shelf in one of these bookstores, I'm don't feel disgusted - like I do in a public library. I'm often not thinking about how many horrible germs may be on the book (millions - after all, so many others have handled the book before me, just looking at it and putting it back), I'm wondering this book's history. I'm wondering how long it'll be in my possession and where it'll end up after I'm gone (that latter thought is something I don't think about much, but I do have that thought when I'm not feeling all that great that day, or I'm battling a cold or flu, or worse still, I'm just feeling older than I really am because of my medical condition). 

Do you ever wonder about the books you received from these bookstores, wonder where they've been, how they've come to be in your hands... how long they'll be with you and where they will end up after you've let them go? It's not a horrible thought, but one I've had over the last few years - and one I had to think about today as a dear friend of mine lost one of his cousins last week suddenly. This makes me think that life is far too short to not read all the books you want, learn everything you want to, watch the sunsets from all around the world and be everything you ever wish to be squeezed into this lifetime... however short or long it may be... possessions mean nothing in the end. They get shuffled around the family, sent away after nobody wants them and sold. But books? They're the gems, the goldmines people tend to get rid of and not realise they can be worth a small fortune if they're not well-informed. What do you think? Is this something I'm thinking into too much, or am I right? Until my next post, happy reading.

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