The old lady who bought a book for her friend.


An old lady bought a book for her dear friend. She came into the shop just on closing and it was very cold. Her friend lives in Goolwa and can no longer get out and about.

She knew precisely what he would like to read though. She knew in great detail what he already had read and she described the size and shape of each pleasure that books gave her friend who could no longer get up and go out.

She told me of his inclination for novels, for malicious characters, for historical curiosities and for Chinese food. There is a detective writer called Robert van Gulik that he loves. He will sit down to Chinese takeaway and read the novels of Robert van Gulik one after another. He liked books in hardback, he liked the heaviness of them and he liked proper paper. He always examined the spines of books and is scathing of the glued bindings. He would only tolerate glued bindings in his Robert van Gulik books. He liked the sewn books best of all, with dignified boards and a stout shape that will not stoop.

She bought him a copy of Barchester Towers and Heart of Darkness – he has already read these but they are always worth another go. She looked at the books carefully; she hoped they would not stoop.

Then she went home, with her gifts and her stout heart and her friendship that does not stoop.

Photography by Rula Sibai

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