Share Your Books

Why Spreading Literature is Valuable

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Photo Credit: Myself- The Haunted Bookshop in Iowa City, Iowa

When I first read The Outermost House, written by Henry Beston I was taken over with jealousy. In 1927 Beston spent a year alone in his beach cottage on the coast of Maine. He had time to connect with himself (I hide in my basement to do that), existed only in nature (It’s 19 degrees in Iowa right now)and survived without luxuries (as I type this on my laptop).

The book was a compilation of his notes and journal entries. It offered me a different perspective. It provided me with an awareness of how desperate I feel at times to change my lifestyle.

What if we changed our lifestyles?

What if we all were to transform our every day grind into simplicity? What if we were to live by a standard where we value who we are above how much money we make or what we own?

In order to do so many of us caught in the trap would need to change our way of thinking. Some of us may want to. Some of us may not want to.

By chapter two I was suffering from, just one more page syndrome. Once I reached the book’s end I snail mailed it to a friend with a note that read, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

The first chapter of The Wife, written by Meg Wolitzer was gripping. A few chapters in the fire became smoldering coals. I stuck it out. I wasn’t giving up just yet. When I reached the conclusion of the story I was wowed. I mean like, Shit- I can’t believe that happened- wowed, just wowed. I often think about the ending even now, ten years later. Had I not finished the novel I would have never been consumed by its power. That would’ve sucked.

I snail mailed my copy off to a friend in New Zealand the week I finished reading it.

I’d heard so many good things about the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Marie Kondo. I had to read it and I did.

In her book she writes, “Once you have piled your books, take them in your hand one by one and decide whether you want to keep or discard each one. The criterion is, of course, whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. Remember, I said when you touch it. Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment. Instead of asking yourself what you feel, you’ll start asking whether you need that book or not.”

What is this madness? Who doesn’t need books?

A better question would be, Why aren’t we sharing our books with loved ones, acquaintances and complete strangers?

I met this guy. We got to talking about books. When we parted ways he handed me his copy of Suttree, written by Cormac McCarthy. Our paths had crossed for only an hour. I sat down on my couch warmed by the fireplace, wrapped safe in a blanket, a gallon of coffee by my side. I shut the world out and began reading. I loved the book.

I’m overwhelmed with curiosity when I open the front cover of a book. I’m enraptured each time I close the back cover. It’s awe-inspiring the words we often find inside those pages.

By sharing books we share adventure, knowledge we’ve learned, the characters we fell in love with. We travel back in history, dream of the future, solve mysteries and live magical moments. We experience the emotions of triumph and failure. We lose sleep when we can’t bring ourselves to put the book down.

With all this wonder it feels selfish not to share. Books are treasures. They are immortal. Our time will come to pass but our books will always remain. It’s a far more enchanting notion to leave our books behind in the hands of the world rather than housed on the shelves in our homes.

Not only do we catch a glimpse of who the author is but each book we read is also a reflection of who we are. We pass along pieces of ourselves when we pass along our books.

Last month I snail mailed eleven books to others across the country. Four books went to people I know. The other seven to people I only know of via the internet. I thrive off the excitement of knowing someone out there in the world will receive my treasure and hope they feel the same intensity of its value as I do.

This is a tradition I hope to pass down to my children and I hope they will pass it down to generations yet to come. In a world that at times is not at its best there will always be stories to strengthen human connection.

Share your books.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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