I’ve always had this weird habit of smelling the pages of a library book when I first open it up, I feel like the essence of what it holds inbetween it’s covers has a great deal to do with where it’s been. Pine, dust, coffee, leaves, whiskey, irish air? I cannot help but wonder at the places it may have traveled, who has read it, and what lives it may have touched by it’s thoughts. Books are more than the words written in them.
For, if say, a particular book has an impact on a particular man, he may then do something about it, say behave differently with another person by it’s ideas, or perhaps even write a book of his own in response. And then someone else reads the second book, or simply is changed by the man himself, and on and on it goes. The domino affect of books is entirely endless and I am forever enchanted by holding it in my hands and breathing in it’s musty pages.
This began when I was a youngster, back when libraries were as common as Starbucks, when there was no such thing as the internet or cell phones, and the coolest computer game was Oregon Trails.
The only way to play it was during a trip to the library itself, where it would be found at the one massive computer sitting next to the dewey decimals system card catalog.
If you just asked yourself what the hell dewey decimals system card catalogs are, I suspect you were born after 1990 and may have little to no interest in what I am talking about at the moment. Consider this fair warning, dear reader, and I am sorry for your loss.
Aside from the stories and thoughts so beautifully laid out in these paper treasures, I would often find myself lost for hours skimming through their pages, wondering at their history in the back aisles of one of my favorite places in the world. I was lost there, in the best way possible, and I never felt more at home.
If you’ve been unsure as to whether or not I was a full-blown nerd, wonder now no more.
Back then there were these funny little pockets at the front of each book, stating the names and dates of those who’d read them before me. It become somewhat of an obsessive hobby of mine going through those names and seeing how far back I could discover a shared lover of the same story and if, perhaps, somewhere we’d met before.
My delight of that place became my escape, and the fascination of tales and the writing of them never ceased to amaze and consume me. I read more books as a child and young adult than I can count, most of which have become like old friends whom I like to go back and visit from time to time.
I even find myself dreaming of that library’s peaceful and seemingly ancient walls when my soul becomes weary of the cold, fast beat of the internet, cell phones and every other hurried glowing thing that seems to have taken over the planet. Though I may be a fool to think so, there is for me no greater pleasure than sitting underneath a tree somewhere away from the city with a good book in hand that has been loved on and read many times over.