I feel like it is every book lover’s goal to be a library. I mean this in every sense of the word. Not just to have a lot of books, or a whole room full, even, but the be a library where a friend can come to them and say “Hey I need something to read” and they respond by pulling a book off their shelf and handing it over, because they have just the book. This, I am convinced, is the ultimate book lover’s achievement.
My friend circle is pretty much made up of people who love books. I have a few friends who aren’t so much into reading, but for most part, all my friends are readers, and big ones. This is great when it comes to reading suggestions. I have more books in lists of things I should read than books I’ve read in my whole life by now, I’m sure. But the really fun part is pulling a book off your shelf and bringing to a friend so that they can enjoy the exact same copy that you enjoyed yourself. Not only are you sharing the experience of reading the same story, but you get that copy back someday with the knowledge that it made someone else happy too.
I was talking to my friend Dakota a while back, via Skype as she lives in another state, and she was telling me how she and Twirls exchange full bags of books every time they see each other. I’m a slow reader and I couldn’t handle a whole bag of books. I can hardly handle one at a time. But this exchange of books is perfect for them to enjoy each other’s collections. Twirls can read like mad and Dakota somehow manages to keep more than one book straight at a time. It’s amazing, really. I can’t help but be a little jealous of their book exchange. Having expressed this, Dakota offered to send me a book. The book will be a surprise, if it’s ever chosen. Grad school tends to take up a lot of a persons mind. But Dakota had a surprising request when she offered to send me one of her books.
“You have to write in it so I know what you thought,” she told me.
Writing in books is a totally foreign concept to me. Well, not totally, I guess. Any writing major knows sometimes taking notes in the book itself is the best way to keep your thoughts in order. A lot of readers mark up their books just for fun, to comment on the story or a particular line or the characters or what have you. A lot of my friends are like this with their own books, but I never could bring myself to do it. I love books, you see, and while I’m incredibly rough on my own books — carrying them around in a large bag to get bumped and bent for several weeks while I read them wherever and whenever I can — I feel like it’s somehow wrong to deface the pages with my own remarks. I do, however, see where those who mark up their books are coming from, and sometimes I wish I had thoughts powerful enough to be worth writing in the book.
This was the request put to me, though, by Dakota about her book that she is willing to lend me. I can understand marking up your own books, yes, but the thought of marking up someone else’s is particularly hard for me. Dakota, however, sees the book as a sort of forum. She’s written in the book, and she gives that book to another person and tells them, “Go ahead, mark it up.” The next person comments on the story and reads Dakota’s comments and maybe comments on the comments as well. Then Dakota can read the comments and laugh and perhaps respond in kind to the comments before passing the book onto a new friend to get new comments to read, new thoughts on the same story she’s read over and over. It’s actually a really cool idea.
This past week I had the opportunity to share my own books with a friend. After the race last week Danielle said she was looking for something to read and my mind went running. I may have gotten a little carried away. We planned to get coffee last Friday and by Wednesday I already had a stack waiting by the door. It started with a young adult series I really enjoyed in high school. It’s by a christian author so I thought it’d be a good fit. The first two books went into the pile. Then I saw Howl’s Moving Castle and how could I not pass that one on? I thought about giving her all three books, but I figured I had to draw the line somewhere. Then it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure if she had read Anne of Green Gables and everyone needs to read Anne at least once. She has read Anne of Green Gables but I gave the first three books to her anyway. You can never have too much Anne. Besides, I was super tempted to go back and read the first book when I really should be finishing the fourth. Temptation out of the way, at least for a while.
So, six books later, I managed to stop myself from staring at my bookshelf for other things she might like. She’s enjoying Howl’s Moving Castle, which pleases me as it’s one of my favorites. Sharing books is, after all, every book lover’s dream, and I have officially reached the book sharing stage of book collecting. It makes me super excited, even if I did get a little carried away. Next time, I’ll try to keep a little more control over my book sharing.