Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Books Tell Stories...

...and not just the ones written on their pages. For instance:

Exhibit A: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, picked up at Piccadilly in London by my younger college self, who worked up the nerve to ask a complete stranger in a foreign country (this coming from the girl who used to make her friends ask the teacher if she could use the restroom in elementary school {a wee bit timid am I}) – the curator of this flea-market-style booth- how much it was (“for you, love? Five pounds”). I spent much of my free time on that trip sitting in the wide-silled window of my shoebox-sized dorm room, reading those worn pages. I stitched the flailing spine back together with thread found in my travel sewing kit (knew that would come in handy!).

Exhibit B: Five Little Peppers Midway: I snatched up this copy of the book, found underneath a table in a box at a library book sale. I had always wondered what came of Jasper and Polly, after my mom read this book's predecessor to us as kids. I remember not just that it was a wonderful story, but also that we bought it the fancy new Barnes and Noble 1.5 hours away, and also (I’m fairly certain) that  the paperback met its demise when it was later devoured by our slightly confused dog.
    My brother once told me that he thought our mom had the nicest (prettiest? Kindest? Can’t quite recall his exact adjective choice) voice. He was right. The voice that soothed us, sang to us, sang to our Lord, advised us, stood still to listen to us…and still does all of those things to this day. This book, read to us by that very voice, tells that story too.

That Christmas, my husband surprised me with the whole series:

...what a guy!

Exhibit C: Inscription upon Inscription; Paper mementos of relationships, lives, people I never knew. Surely the stories of those lives could fill exponentially more pages than those shown here:

Exhibit D:
Pages never read, never even cut (from the days when reading a new book meant slicing each page open with a knife... too violent for modern-day reading, I suppose). What tales does an an unread book have to tell? Perhaps that of a would-be-reader with a life full of walks in the park and daydreaming and wandering, with no time to read. Or an absent-minded professor, too occupied with the smoking flasks and bubbling brews on his work table to bother with the books collecting dust on the shelf behind him. Maybe an avid reader, who eagerly purchased this gem, and just never got to it. Or maybe someone like me, content to gaze upon it and wonder from the chair across the room, cozied up with quite another book.

..and best of all…
The book that tells of the One who saves lives, gives purpose, heals wounds deep below the surface, and calms the storms of the heart.

It does me good to see words that are dear and familiar to me, annotated by someone years (decades? centuries?) ago who also found them dear and made them familiar:

                                                                   "Tonic," it says.

                                                            "Marvelous," it says!

And that is why my shelves look like this:

 Books tell stories.


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