Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Holiness of Books

I love books almost as much as my boyfriend loves movies. My personal collection is a fraction of what it would be, if both my free time and funds were, if not infinite, at least significantly amplified. There are a lot of attitudes about books that differ from mine, not in the sense that some people don't care for books and think that anyone who enjoys reading for leisure is stupid, but in the sense that books themselves are, somehow, sacred. Sacrosanct.

I've known people who feel it's disrespectful to dog-ear a book, or to let its spine crack. I may be in the minority, but I feel that that attitude just misses something. Then again, I have books that I've owned since I was in middle school (one very special one that I've had as long as I can remember). I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I've re-read them; this is where that limited funds thing comes in to play, to some extent, but I'd still re-read these books, because I love them. They are dog-eared all to hell, and a little battered, and some of them even have pen marks in the margins. But I'm confident that if someone were to browse through my collection of paperbacks, they'd have little trouble guessing which books were among my best beloved. I don't treat my books like precious treasures, even though some of them are, to me.

When it comes to books, there are different ways to show reverence and respect, I guess. I love books, I love that they are wonderful sources of information and inspiration and flights of fancy and speculation. I feel that even the most notorious hate-filled books are something special, if only because they teach us the language of hate - the more we can recognize it, the more capable we are of forestalling hateful actions (that is, of course, the hope). I don't feel, however (and this is my atheism bleeding through), that there is any book so holy and precious that it cannot stand to be damaged, or even destroyed.

Yeah, I know. That's a fucking shocking thing to admit.

My qualifier is that I would hate for every copy of a book to be destroyed. Because, as I said before, they all have something to give to us, if only for the example of what not to say, how not to do it.

I guess I don't really know where I'm going with this. I've just been reading two of my most favorite books in the last few weeks (The Sorceress and the Cygnet, and The Cygnet and the Firebird by Patricia A. McKillip), and it's been on my mind.
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