My books, some of which have been with me since childhood, are as beloved to me as a few of the people I know and care about. And I turn to them almost as often.
There is comfort in the faded illustrations, the dog-eared pages and worn bindings. And the familiar words.
I like to have those books nearby, on a shelf by a comfortable chair or stacked on a table beside a lamp, so that when the mood strikes, I can tuck into a book of poetry or a quaint reference volume on botany or birds or travel. Or, I can revisit a character from a favorite novel.
I have a friend who uses old books to decorate every room of her house.
“I could drown in old books,” she once told me. “I love the way they look and the way they feel in your hand.”
Old cookbooks line the shelves in her big kitchen. Biographies and memoirs are stacked in the sitting room.
Each time I go to her house, usually to have a meal, I am drawn to the books she has chosen to keep. Sometimes, I pick up one and sit down to read a bit. Eventually someone misses me and calls me back to the kitchen, but no one can blame me.
The smell of good food, the sound of laughter and the warmth of books bound in cracked leather are the secret ingredients to her hospitality.
I love books, but like everything else, I try to keep only the ones that mean the most to me. So, occasionally, I edit. I pick those I think my friends might like and send them along. Or, I drop off books at fundraisers and used bookstores. If we’re having a garage sale, I always have a box of two of books to sell.
Books come and go. But some stay forever.
Those are the old friends I love the most.
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