I collect two things. Books and old ephemera. It’s been going on for many years and there’s no indication that my collections will slow in their growth. It’s alright though….the books are being read and the ephemera is usually found underneath tables at estate sales – costing pennies, if anything.
I used to think these collections were separate in nature, but they never were. Both reflect my attraction (and now the attraction of my girls) to something forgotten but once loved. Most of the books we collect had robust previous lives, and all of the letters, postcards, and photos that line my closets used to be the treasures of complete strangers.
But, I’m not here to rationalize my accumulation of someone’s wedding photos or the stack of letters on 1930s hotel letterhead. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, you already think I’m a complete weirdo.
No, I’m here to make a slightly odd, but totally appropriate request of you. I’m here to humbly ask you to reconsider giving away, donating, selling, or discarding that book you were given. I’m not talking about a random paperback copy of “Twilight” that you picked up at the local library sale.
I mean the graduation present from your Aunt Susan. She bought you a copy of, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and she wrote a special message on the front page with the date and signed her name. I mean the copy of a book that was very special to your grandparent in the 40s and they ordered it weeks in advance for your birthday. You think it is a bit antiquated, but they inked a poem inside the cover were so excited to give it to you.
I understand that we can’t keep everything, I really do. But I also understand that a person who is going to hand-pick a book, just for you, and then take time to write a message, date it, and sign their name is the kind of person that thoughtfully planned the gift – it meant something to them and they hoped it would mean something to you. That alone is worth giving the book a chance and cherishing it.
We are living in a time when writing anything aside from a text or email is rare. Keep those books that were designated especially for you. They are precious.
In the meantime, the girls and I will be over here, coaming the shelves of junk sales and used books stores. Peering inside every cover, hoping to rescue a forgotten or abandoned group of words. Written lovingly and with great care. We will take them home and give them the attention they really do deserve.