What do readers do with their books?

I always wonder this. Where do the books go? What sort of libraries does everyone else have? There must be some enormous collections out there. I know that, if allowed to, libraries take on a life of their own that is way beyond anything we can direct. People mention this.

Some visitors carry out armfuls. Some just one. But it’s the same thing; the intensity of the capture is identical whether one or some. It’s impossible to tell another person why or even exactly what one has found. Last Tuesday, John carried seven large volumes of history, in two Woolworths shopping bags. He was bent over with the weight when he went out the door.

I said, ‘But where’s your car?’ And he said, ‘No, no, I’m all right,’ while looking down at the bags he was carrying with eyes like jewels.  

Do children make libraries? They are particular about their books, staring at covers for a long time. Once a child stood over a table, examining an illustration, tapping it as he stared, not hearing me, or the traffic, not even the thunder storm outside that pushed all of Strathalbyn under cover. When he bought it, he walked outside into the rain without noticing that either.

Some young readers have by memory every title on their shelves. They describe the size of their collection by how good the books are that are in it. Thus a collection of six books can challenge a national state library in terms of significance.

Illustration by Erin McGuire

6 thoughts on “What do readers do with their books?

  1. With apologies to Eleanor Farjeon…
    Books live, anywhere,
    Any table, any chair
    Top of piano, window-ledge,
    In the middle, on the edge,
    Open drawer, empty shelf,
    Piled up next to Christmas Elf,
    Packed away in a cardboard box,
    Hiding, with your missing socks –
    Anywhere! They don’t care!
    Books live anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of them end up in the Book Retirement Home, aka the book exchange cupboard at the Community Hall. The books appreciate this. It means more people will pay attention to them. It also means the books get out more. It can get boring just sitting on someone’s bookshelf with the same books on either side of you, and with whom you have discussed their contents just once too many times.

    Except for “Whores in History”. Every other book on the shelves is dying to be placed next to that one, even the cookbooks (which really should know better) and the Rand McNally Road Atlas of the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grown ups are like kids, too, book-wise, I mean. Our three favorite books have the best shelf. We read on the porch, and if the book is enthralling, we don’t notice the time passing until the sun has set so low we can’t see the words anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

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