Bibliophile seeking same
So, there I was, in a bookstore, shopping for Christmas presents. I hadn’t planned on being there that night. Or even making books the theme for my Christmas giving this year, for that matter. But I was waiting for the rest of my dinner party to arrive, and the shop was a calm respite from the noisy restaurant next door.
I’ve always been a bit of a bibliophile. I don’t remember many toys from my childhood, but I remember the books I read and loved. Most of my childhood summers were spent delving over books from the local library. Myopia seems to run in my family, but l maintain that our glasses are simply outer manifestations of our love for reading. Even now, it’s rare that I am anywhere without a book on hand.
Back to the bookstore. I’d found a couple of good matches, and was just wandering around, killing time, when I found myself in the C section of the fiction department. As usual, I checked to see if one of my favorite books was in stock. It was. I picked it up for the sheer pleasure of flipping through a couple of pages. And then I couldn’t stop. My phone started buzzing, and I knew that my party had arrived for dinner, and yet I couldn’t put the book down. So I bought it, for myself, for the third time.
My friend Perky introduced me to this book a number of years ago. She loaned me her copy, and I devoured it in a number of hours. It wasn’t long, and the reading was easy, but the beauty of the story, and the simplicity of the writing brought me to tears. At that point, I knew that I would have to possess my own copy. I returned Perky’s copy, and bought a handful … one for myself, and several to give to especially good friends of mine. Because, really, that’s what I like to do with books that touch me as deeply as good friends often do. I gave away all the copies but one, which I reread and made notes in.
Over the years, I lent the book out to several other friends. And in the process, it was lost. I hope that somewhere it is giving someone joy. As for myself, I decided that I wanted to get a hard cover copy, which is what I like to do with books I love. After a few years, I found one on-line that seemed perfect: an older edition, with a beautiful cover, that was only gently used. I purchased the book for the second time. Sadly, it never came. Lost in the mail, perhaps? I got my refund from the bookseller, but was never reconciled to the loss of the book I’d wanted. I never was able to find a hardbound copy, despite checking in every used bookstore I visit.
So, there I was, entering the restaurant, with my third copy of this book, and a glow about my person. Returned home after dinner, and read the book again before going to sleep. Yes, it’s still as good as I remembered. Yes, I’m still glad I bought it, despite having paid full price. The simplicity and beauty of the message still resonate strongly with my soul, and inspires me to be more hopeful and charitable.
What are the non-scriptural books that you love? The ones that you must keep a copy of? The ones that have changed you and helped you grow? The ones that you can’t help but share with others? How did you come across it? Why do you love it so?
PS: The book I’ve been writing about is By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept, by Paulo Coelho. Like Coelho’s other works, it is fiction, but is sometimes placed in the philosophy section of used bookstores. One passage that brings me a lot of joy …
You have to take risks, he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.
Every day, God gives us the sun – and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist – that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting out front-door key in the lock, it may be hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moments exists – a moment when all the powers of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.
Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments – but all of this is transitory; it leavds no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.