Merry Christmas! And a thought regarding gifting used books

Christmas2014Merry Christmas! Though it is raining it still feels like Christmas. And happiness. My family welcomed a new grandson this month, Lincoln Thomas. He joins his big brother, Greyson. If you’ve been to the store I’m sure you’ve met Grey. He will make a great big brother. And of course we are patiently waiting for their cousin to arrive but that won’t be until March or April. We are all very happy and content this Christmas season. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

I also would like to share about a comment I overheard in the store’s aisle the other day. A young man was saying to another customer that he was feeling weird about buying a used book as a gift. Of course I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to embarrass him. It made me feel that he was thinking that the store carried cheap books. Discarded books. Books with a bad reputation. Obviously I’ve been mulling this over in my mind for a few days. I want to write my response to him and share it. My thoughts of used books and used bookstores.

Used books are magical. Magical? They have been held, read, gifted by at least one other person. Some aged books have been held by many. To hold a book in your hand,  if you are quiet and still,  you’d feel the energy of those who’ve read the book before you. What did that person experience as they were reading? What thoughts came to them as they closed the book for the last time?  A used bookstore could be seen as a caregiver to the book maintaining its health until another wants to cherish it.

If he only knew how some people ache when they give up their books to the store for resell. Most are passionate about their books and it pains them to let them go. Or to go to a house to purchase a whole collection. Many times the owner has passed away. I always feel such an honor to be able to look at the books and note the collection. What pride the books take on. I can almost visualize the owner sitting in the comfy chair in the corner of the room with a new arrival in his hands. How I wish I could sit and talk to him about his books. I learn a bit of the owner’s personality and how they conducted their life as I take each book off the shelf and place it in a box.

Used Book Store by Charles Simic

Lovers hold hands in never-opened novels.
The page with a recipe for cucumber soup is missing.
A dead man writes of his happy childhood on a farm,
Of riding in a balloon over Lake Erie.

A sudden draft shuts his book in my hand,
While a philosopher asks how is it possible
To maintain the theologically orthodox doctrine
Of eternal punishment of the damned?

Let’s see. There may be sand among the pages
Of a travel guide to Egypt or ever a dead flea
That once bit the ass of the mysterious Abigail
Who scribbled her name teasingly with an eye pencil.

You never know the history of a used book. Which makes it a perfect gift.

Merry Christmas one and all!


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