The spine caught my eye.
I pulled the book from the bookshelf and examined the cover. The designs were intricate, the pages worn. That old book smell lingered up and into my nostrils as I flipped through the pages enthusiastically yet gently.
The copyright date was missing, but an introduction by the publisher was signed with the year: 1891.
So there I was, standing in the corner of my favorite bookstore, unable to put down a book that contained famous short stories by an author whom I very much respect.
But the book itself--gosh, the book itself--the book itself was a story. Where had it been since its publication date in 1891? Whose eyes wandered upon the pages? How did the book get there--who passed it on and who passed it down? These are all questions that one must ask when holding an old book.
It’s a glorious experience, really. An old book is time turned tangible.
When I took the book to the checkout counter, the bookstore owner placed a dab of lotion on a soft cloth and showed me how to make the cover more becoming.
“It won’t hurt it,” she said, as I watched her rub the surface with care before lifting up the cloth and showing it to me. “See how much dirt is on there?”
But I didn’t mind the dirt. It seemed natural. It seemed as though it had been there forever.
The beauty of books is that they have long lifespans. Think about it: old books have survived wars and outlived thousands of people. Maybe the pages are earmarked and yellowed, and maybe the spine is dented or the inside page missing . . . but smell them. Hold them. Love them. Appreciate them. They’ve traveled a long way just to get to you.
Fiction, poetry, and all that good stuff . . .