Books are never owned, only borrowed…
OK, I can’t actually remember who said that, but it’s something I believe. The experience of the book and tale and the knowledge are what you own afterwards. The gift of the author’s soul you extract from the pages.
These days, I read just about everything on my Kindle, and during CCOVID it was rare for me to thumb through an actual paper book. The last months though, more than a few things on my reading list didn’t have sourceable electronic formats (or worse, were audiobook only), so I’ve been using dead tree versions quite a bit.
So, I’ve been doing this thing with my paper books. And it gave me the warm fuzzies, so maybe you want to as well. It’s simple. And not a lot of work…
Books are sharks … because sharks have been around for a very long time. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs, and the reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.”
Adams told Gaiman: “‘Look at a book. A book is the right size to be a book. They’re solar-powered. If you drop them, they keep on being a book. You can find your place in microseconds. Books are really good at being books and no matter what happens books will survive.’ And he was right.” — Douglas Adams as related by Neil Gaiman
If the book is great or even good, I leave it someplace for someone to find with a “Take Me” post-it on it, or someplace it will easily be picked up like cool little cafes or boutique hotel/hostel bookshelves or even seats in hotels or planes, trains, and metros.
Before I release the book into the wild though, I write a little inscription inside it. I tell the person the book is a gift, why it’s good and worth their time, and once they’re done, they should add their name and where and when they read it and pass it on back into the wild to be found by someone. Under the original inscription, I write this site, my email, and mastodon handle just to let people know where to contact me since I’ve asked them to let me know.
It’s kinda my message in a bottle (apologies to The Police), and something I really kinda hope might catch on beyond me, or even get picked up by an idea for linking interesting folks through books by something like Bookwyrm or (shudder) Goodreads.
Why? We true believers in the written word seem on the wane. And any connection through great ideas and writing seems like a worthwhile thing to attempt, even if it’s a slightly ghetto hand-passed approach in a world increasingly digital and ephemeral. Sorta like a slow-roll, Scuttlebutt, social network amongst us reading malcontents.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to see where all those books will go. And kinda excited about the people I may even meet as a result and the conversations we might have. For some reason, it seems a much cooler way to connect then more deliberate social book networks like goodreads and other have failed in commercializing.
Let’s see. Be lucky and help other people be more lucky, folks. Pass on your great reads.