Monday, September 15, 2008
I share books.
I loan books to friends and acquaintances all the time.
Reading is a joy for me, and I like nothing better than to share some of the literary gems I have found with like-minded people.
This passed Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting with John, a very dear friend that I had not seen in quite some time. We discussed many things, as we always do. The topic soon turned to movies and then to books. One book in particular: The Color of Light by William Goldman. (he wrote The Princess Bride, too!)
John informed me that he had been unable to find this book for some time and was always searching for it whenever and wherever he could. I sympathized. It truly is a hard book to find as it is out of print. A novel of such beauty and intensity should NOT be allowed to be out of print.
Anyway, I happened to have a copy which I found at a second-hand bookstore in Kingston. Although this copy (one of many I have had over the years) was well-worn and slightly yellowed, it was intact, and I knew that John of all people could be trusted to care for it and return it.
John was thrilled to again have this book in his possession. I understood completely...and it pleased me well to know that I had given him something that would bring him joy.
Other books were passed on to John and his good lady over the course of the afternoon. The Cider House Rules by John Irving and Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. I have loaned these books out to many others as well - and replaced them several times for my own collection when they failed to be returned.
Loaning a book often means you will never see it again. It's a chance worth taking if you value your friends and wish to share something beautiful with them. Sometimes, you can search and scour every dingy second-hand bookstore, yard sale and library clearing for a book that failed to come home and never find another copy.
Then, there are days like today.
The Book Bank (a wonderful second hand bookshop) wasn't really on my route today as I went about my errands - but something told me to stop in. I didn't really have the time or money for book shopping, but I went anyway.
The young man who works at the Book Bank looked up from his tattered paperback copy of The Godfather, smiled, and greeted me warmly. He asked if I was looking for something in particular.
"The Color of Light", I told him. "It's by..."
"William Goldman," he finished my sentence.
I stared at the twenty-something child, somewhat stupefied.
"You've read it?", I asked incredulously. He nodded and smiled again as he came out from behind the counter to rummage through the haphazard shelves.
"A-ha!", he said as he stood up and dusted off his knees. "Here we are." He held up the novel for me to see. I looked at its familiar white cover, silver-lettered title. I could have hugged him.
"Anything else I can help you find?" he inquired cheerfully.
Again the young man smiled. "You're probably looking for The Worst Thing I've Done which is a very good book...but have you ever read Stones from the River?" I felt light-headed.
"Actually, that's what I'm looking for" I said, still not believing this conversation was taking place.
"Well, you're in luck then. We happen to have two copies of it - one in hard cover if you like."
"No, no...paperback will be fine." I took the book from him and tucked it under my arm with the other novel.
"Anything else today?"
"I'm just going to look around for a bit, I think".
"No trouble at all. Let me know if I can be of further help," he said as he returned to the counter and to The Godfather (a fine book itself).
I poked around a bit...looking, wanting. I found a new copy of Redwall by Brian Jaques and scooped it up with my other books. It will make a fine present for my niece.
Finally, I headed for the counter. I needed to be elsewhere and this stop had been unscheduled.
The young man punched in the book codes on the till and announced "Eight dollars and seventy-five cents, please." A pittance for such treasures. I opted to pay in cash rather than use the bank card.
While rummaging through my purse for my billfold, I happened to glance down at a box of books which had been dropped in front of the counter. On the top of the box was another familiar cover. The Cider House Rules. What are the odds? (no, really! what are they?!?")
I bent down and came back up with the novel in my hand. "How much for this one?"
The familiar grin appeared on his face. "Great book!" he said. "Ummm...how's three dollars?"
Eleven dollars and seventy-five cents to buy happiness. Not a bad deal at all.
Not only that, but now John can keep the books that I loaned to him, saving him the responsibility of returning my books to me.
Karma, it seems, is kind to people who share books.
I highly recommend it.