I love my books. I have a friend that would say that I love my books to death.
As a child, I was taught to value my books. I brought my school books home each year and dutifully made grocery bag covers. I never wrote in them. I never left them upside down and open. Library books were also treated with reverence. And books that I do not own, I still treat with gentleness and respect.
However, I have a different class of books in my home today. I buy books. I own them. I love them. I read and reread them. I outline the plots and story lines of my favorite fiction. I write in the margins of my nonfiction books. If I am interrupted I might even leave them open and upside down on a table. They are tools and unless they are rare vintage finds I use them as such.
I buy books everywhere. I love used book stores and thrift shops. I’ll often find a best seller of years gone by on the shelf, something I didn’t have time to read when it was popular. It will follow me home to be read at my leisure.
I find the most intriguing books on writing–often written thirty or forty years ago—tucked away on the bottom plank of a crudely made bookcase. I look forward to exploring these out of-the-way spots. These books I bring home and if I find them useful or interesting I fill the margins with notes, I add tabs and post-a-notes. Then I prominently display them near my desk. If they no longer serve my purpose I return them to a thrift shop for someone else to enjoy.
My friend on the other hand loves her books equally. She treats them all with respect. She would never leave them open and upside down on a table. She would never compromise the pristine condition of her books by writing in the margin or cause damage to the pages by adding tabs and sticky notes. She buys used books only when they are in perfect condition. The walls of her home are lined with bookcases and reflect her reverence for books. When she makes the decision to buy a book it is because it will probably stay in her home forever.
I do not borrow books from my friend.
But we are both right. The important thing is that we both love the feel of a book in our hands. We both love turning pages one by one and peeking ahead to see how many more pages until the end of the chapter…when we must stop reading for a while and do some chore, or make supper, or turn out the light. Neither one of us has gotten comfortable with the idea of electronic readers…but I am sure that someday we will.