Books hold onto the memories and experiences you had while reading them.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at my shelves, I not only see books, I also see memories. I can pick up a book and oftentimes I remember where I was when I was reading it, or I have a particular memory associated with it. Take The Secret Garden. I was on my aunt’s couch, in the middle of summer, hoping for even a small breeze to blow through that house. That was almost 12 years ago, and I still remember the heat of that summer and how the light fell through the curtains. I have no idea why I can clearly recall that moment and not others, because I am almost constantly reading, but some moments stick, and others don’t. Of course, it’s not always the book that sticks with you, but the emotions surrounding the time when you were reading it. I was reading Eragon when one of my cats died in middle school, and I remember loving that book, but I also can clearly recall that I was halfway through it when the cat passed away.
It fascinates me how certain books are tied up with our memories. I often get books as gifts, and that is a great example of what I’m talking about, because as soon as I open a book I got as a present, I am immediately taken back to when it was gifted to me. Christmases, birthdays and the like all come flooding back…depending on which family members were at the dinner table that year, this can be a good or a bad thing. That’s one of the reasons I prefer to buy my books; it’s more than my rather selfish need to hold onto them. I made this connection to books and memories early in life.
I am of the opinion that everyone should have a library card; however, I was and am always reluctant to give the borrowed book back, because I felt that some of my own memories were tied up with it, and given my near constant state of distraction, how was I to remember anything at all? I worried that if I didn’t hold onto the book, some part of me would slip away with it. (I was prone to existential crises as a child. And theatrics.) I find that concept interesting though, the idea that libraries are warehouses of not only books and knowledge, but also memories. When you borrow a book from a library (which you really should do!) how many people have had that book before you? How many people laughed, cried, read it in the bathtub, whatever? Which of them liked it and which didn’t? And, worst of all, who returned the book unread? If I knew that, I would know who to avoid in public.
I’ve never been one for scrapbooking. It takes up valuable space on my shelves, and I have no desire to spend hours taping and gluing the necessary items into a blank book. I’d rather spend my time elsewhere, but I had a thought, and although it may not be particularly original and certainly possesses far too much sentimentally to be of any value, it is the reason this post was written. Given those precursory warnings, the thought it is this: my shelves themselves are like scrapbooks, containing cobbled together bits of memory. Yes, it’s sentimental. My apologies. But it's sort of like my version of scrapbooking. Those of us who have shelves and shelves that are overstuffed with books also have our own little patchwork of memories. We have only to crack open a book, and sometimes unexpectedly, life comes flooding back, a moment in time that we’ve forgotten about. Not to belabor the point, but being a lifelong reader has many benefits, and this is one of them.
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!