(Toledo, OH) I have been a reader of books dating back to a time that I can no longer remember from my childhood. With a book in hand I can journey around the planet and visit distant lands through the eyes of a talented writer.
While I have books to which I apply the label "favorite," I do not possess any for which I have a strong material attachment. The bound format itself is not what transfixes me, but rather the words themselves.
I have been one to be quite generous with books over the years, and I occasionally feel that I am being directed by an unseen force to guide a person to a particular book. On many of these occasions I have simply passed the book on, knowing that my time with the text had passed.
Likewise, there are some people in my life whose suggestions to read a particular book I always follow, because their recommendations are uncanny in their ability to connect readers and books that seem destined for each other.
While helping a colleague move a few months back, I carried some particularly heavy boxes into his apartment.
"What, are you bringing in a collection of bricks?" I queried.
The person I assisted moving replied that the boxes contained a collection of classic books that were leather bound and had gilded lettering. The entire collection, I was told, cost my colleague $10,000.
Never having spent more than $29.99 for a book in my life (overpriced college texts excepted), I wanted to see what such a book looked like. I opened the box and took out a copy of Wuthering Heights.
"Whoa - would you mind putting that back?" was the comment from the owner. "Those are really more for decoration and investment."
I placed the book back in its box and folded the lid, surveying a group of boxes that contained a significant amount of knowledge and wisdom. I was saddened that this collective human experience was meant only to sit on shelves, look elegant, and remain locked away from other people.
A book, in my opinion, is merely a useful tool (albeit one that sometimes contains great beauty), and a door through which we might pass into other worlds. The idea that a book can be some prized material possession is foreign to me, and I feel sorry for the people who are afraid to let human fingers run through the pages of their books.