When books stop loving you back
Posted June 2, 2011on:
Talk about a May December romance. All of these printings are older than I am, and most of these titles are older than my parents. To say they are less than shiny would be the understatement of the year. They are battered, they are beautiful, they are still eminently readable.
I’m only the most recent person to love these books, and from the looks of them, they haven’t got much love left in them to give back:
This poor copy of Brave New World is missing it’s back cover. But once upon a time someone thought it would make a great gift to their “Dear Peter”, and inscribed it appropriately.
My best guess for the damage to this copy of Robert Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters is coffee? Brackish water of some other sort, perhaps? You can’t tell from the photo, but the edges of the covers have been reinforced with tape:
And let’s not forget my beloved copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I’m pretty sure I swiped this from my parents bookshelves when I moved out of their house. Despite the laws of physics and the free market, the covers are holding on for dear life.
I looked all morning, unsuccessfully, for my copy of Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold. That baby is held together with rubberbands and luck.
It does the beg the question of why don’t I just throw these out and buy clean copies? They are all available at local bookstores, typically for $10 or less.
when should a book that’s got little love left to give simply be thrown out?
on the other hand, I kind of feel like these books are only on loan to me. Who knows how many hands they passed through before they got to me, how many lives were influenced by the words on their vellum-like pages? One day, if these books can survive another reading or two, I hope they will make their way to someone else’s hands, someone who will wonder where the greasy fingerprints came from, the coffee stains, how the cover got that particular crease in it, why that page is dog ear’ed. And no doubt that person too, with flirt with the idea of flinging them into the bin, knowing brand new copies are easily available.
In the digital age, I fear all this bibliophile romanticism will die a lonely death.