On Keeping and Being Kept by Books

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”  – William Styron

I concur.


My books were treasure troves and escape hatches, comfort huddles and educational wonders – they were the windows that opened up my consciousness to worlds I could never see, scenes I could never experience, people I could never meet and conversations I could never really be a witness to. They were friends that whispered of the existence of the unknown, and gently suggested of ideas constructed by brilliantly creative minds.

I’ve had 32 years to gather up books that spoke most to me. Sci-fi, fantasy, classics, biographies, who-dun-its, romances and more lived cheek-by-jowl on my cramped shelves. They were accustomed to hands grasping them in glee and knew they were appreciated. They were often loaned to like-minded friends and returned unharmed.

Unfortunately, my books no longer live with me. They live in the attic of my parent’s home, in a country far far away. They are no longer visited regularly by eager hands. Words that once wove spells of enchantment lie powerless under the glaring darkness of an enclosed cupboard. They lie dusty and still, and are not aware that they are sorely missed. But even now, they still make themselves useful. Generations of silverfish have flourished because they relied on those books.

Oh, don’t worry, this isn’t the end. I dislike sad endings and my books have shown me that alternate endings are always possible. So here’s mine.

I have started a new collection here, in this new country. My new books are few at this stage but they already know they are loved. They are aware of their power – that the tears that fall on their pages are of appreciation, that the laughter that resounds around their pages are because they successfully tickle the funny bone. They lay the seeds for ideas that stay dormant in my fertile head till the right time, and then those ideas will flourish, germinate, set down roots and grow.

Charles Eliot said it best, “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

They are indeed all this and more.

(In response to the day’s one-word prompt: Flourish)


4 thoughts on “On Keeping and Being Kept by Books

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