Stage I: Booksale
This word never fails to excite a bibliophile. I wondered when I started loving this place, my memory might fail me but my bookshelf is now a proof that it has given me joy within the pages upon pages I’ve managed to take home with me. After all, who can resist great titles if the come at such an affordable price? So far that only happened when I don’t have an extra budget with me. I humored a friend by saying that Booksale is a blackhole for a wallet, but at the same time a source of happiness for our heart and soul.
It’s an indescribable experience when you find a book that is included in your “must-read-list”, and will only cost you half of its original price. These books have the same soul – same content – but have gone through a different journey. Oftentimes, that’s what makes them more special. I can’t help but say a breath of thanks for whomever decided to give it up for it to land on my hands.
Stage II: Tsundoku
It springs to mind whenever I see the pile of books that have started to get taller, stacking up on one another in my shelf. I can’t help but ask sometimes, how did they get so many? (clue: see stage one.) They bring both comfort and frustration; comfort in knowing that I found these treasures, frustration that I haven’t been reading as much as I want to or as fast as I want to. My usual line when buying yet another book goes like this: I can’t help it! These books come to me. They called me. They need a new home.
Stage III: The End
“I still continue to buy books – there’s no electronic substitute for them; but as soon as I’ve finished a book, I let it go, I give it to someone else, or to the public library. My intention is not to save forests or to be generous. I simply believe that a book has its own journey to make and not be condemned to being stuck on a shelf” – Paulo Coelho, Like the Flowing River
These lines from Coelho’s essay: Of Books and Libraries convinced me years ago to give some of my books away. It has now been a yearly tradition to purge my shelf of titles that I would never open again, or books that didn’t resonate with me.
Once I met up with a book seller to get a second-hand copy of Bird by Bird, and he asked me if I was a writer to be interested with it. I replied that I aspire to be one, and shyly added that for now my words are contained in a small personal space. He then told me that this is one of the best writing books out there and the copy I was buying was his own. It made curious and asked, if this was a great book why was he selling it? “Nothing. Just to avoid being attached to material things,” was his quick reply.
I don’t think I’ll ever come up to that point of letting even the greatest books go. But I’ll continue to free some that are meant to land on someone else’s hands. Who knows? Maybe it’s the right book they’ve been waiting to come.
The end is really not the end. It's a slow realization that these stages aren't problems after all, it's just a cycle of giving back and receiving these wonders once again.