Books are piling up in my garage. It turns out numerous people have been waiting to find a place to discard their books. They care so much about them they don’t want to just throw these books away. How could anyone possibly put something that provided so much pleasure into the trash or recycling bin or dumpster? But giving books to a used bookstore, especially an amazing traveling one feels like giving the beloved book a new lease on life. It just isn’t being tossed and recycled into copy paper or toilet tissue. It has the possibility to be put in the traveling bookstore and taken to exotic places to find a new reader. Deb’s tapas cookbook might end up in Asheville, North Carolina. Shirley’s book on Hank Williams came down off the mountain and ended up in the hands of a young man in Missoula. The book a garlic grower gave me last summer at the farmers market was bought by a teenager at the county fair.
Have you seen the short film, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore“? So much wonder in the sense of books being alive. Not just books opening our minds and hearts to make each of us more alive, but that books have their own lives. Is this going too far? It doesn’t seem so as there is the binding, the pages, the print, the smell of the book and the weight of it in your hand. Yet all this, like meeting a new individual, is just a start. There are the words and ideas that flow from it, the shelves it has sat on, the inscription in the front to Caroline with love Christmas 1993. How many eyes traversed this book? Whose hands have held it?
Yes, books deserve to live as long as possible, appreciated, read, given as a gift, bought on a whim. The traveling bookstore tries to do this, delivering books to new readers. There are some books though that are too old with pages missing and a torn cover. There are others that probably won’t find a new reader in the places I travel to. And there are some books that were popular but not great so that seven copies end up on my shelf. Then I must decide which books should be given to a thrift store or the state prison library, which can be transformed into an artist book, which can have pages used for projects like Wendy’s postcards or a collage. This is another aspect of the traveling bookstore. Letting that which contains so much from the author to the individual who made sure the binding was strong to the reader who folded the corner on page 49, letting that book live as long as possible and then be reincarnated into more art.