A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation… A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.
I was sitting in a local coffee shop when I came across this quote on goodreads and got to thinking how true it was.
Giving up books pains me; I like seeing them on my shelves; it turns my house into a home, so when I give them up, it’s like giving up a piece of me. But books do not make up me, nor should they only be mine. As a writer, I should (and do, somewhat reluctantly) know this best: books are meant to be shared.
The coffee shop in which I sat, The Golden Roast, has a book exchange; leave a book, take a book policy.
They just started it, so it’s a wee little babe, but it’s a brilliant idea.
But this was not the first time I came across a book exchange. When I studied in Chambery, France, we were told about book exchange booths and went in search of them throughout the city. Though I can’t seem to find a picture of one at the moment, I did find this similar one from Britain:
Though obviously it was a little less British looking. You know, no crown and such.
It’s so hard for me to get rid of books that I’ve actually never donated to one of these-a shame, really. It’s something I need to work on: sharing my books. So I vow now to make a system where I let people borrow them just like a library book. I’ll keep records and give them a reading period, sending out reminders when they don’t return on time. I know this may seem a bit over the top, but it’s the only realistic way I’ll ever really let a lot of people borrow my books. I let some people, but it can take forever to get them back, so my thought is if I have a system, it’ll improve. Well, that’s the engineer in me.
I write because I want to have more than one life. -Anne Tyler
This is the joy of being a writer. You get to have more than one life. By now, I’ve had dozens, maybe even hundreds, and I wouldn’t have had this without books. But what’s great-what’s even better than reading someone else’s story, is making your own.
It begins to feel more like your life. You’re making the choices, you envision the place better than a reader would. It’s your story. And you get to keep writing these stories; you get to keep living them.
This is pretty awesome, and yet a lot of people don’t get it. It’s been said to me before, why want other lives when you could be living your own?
It’s not that I dislike my own, for I very much do like it. But I yearn for other experiences. I like adventure. Curiosity fuels my soul. While I’ve definitely had my share of experiences, I always want more.
Have you ever wanted to hike the Appalachian trail, but honestly just not enough to do it? Well, there’s a book about it. Many, actually, my personal favorite being AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller. Or have you wanted wanted to ride a hoverboard but sadly the technology doesn’t exist yet? Read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Or wondered what it was like in history, for instance to be a German boy in WWII? Read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
The possibilities are endless, but books allow us to travel in space and time to experience things we couldn’t otherwise have experienced. They allow us to have a thousand lifetimes in one life.
But as a writer, there is something different that can be gained from stories. Not only can you live the lives of others, but you can realize your dreams.
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. -Toni Morrison
That’s what writers do. There’s a lot more to it than that ultimately, but that’s why we write.
So not only can we read about technologies other people have thought up, but we can invent new ones ourselves, however probably or improbable. You name it, a writer can write it. The possibilities are endless, to be cliche, which means that the amount of lives is endless. We can live through as many people as we want, and we can make them just to our liking (or not, that’s a possibility too, hating the people we write).
So, if you want more than one life: read; if you want to invent lives: write.