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Jewish World Review
Oct. 24, 2008
/ 25 Tishrei 5769
Collection is an open book
We've all heard the tales of the football widows and the golf widows, but could we muster up a little something for the bookstore widows?
The husband loves books. We have a large used bookstore at a major intersection near the house, conveniently located on the way to everywhere.
I'm not saying the husband spends a lot of time there, but in six states the store could officially be registered as his common-law wife.
On occasion, when he would "forget" his cell phone, I had to send one of the kids to the bookstore to tell him dinner was ready and it was time to come home.
The husband is not alone in his passion; there is an entire breed of book lovers who lose track of time wandering among the shelves. They are bookies of a different breed and not the kind who place bets.
A bona fide booklover is someone who loves the smell of paper. They love the feel of the book as much as the look of the book. If someone could bottle the smell of ink on paper in an aftershave, I'm pretty sure the husband would wear it.
I am glad he is passionate about books. My only objection is that he refuses to embrace the basic principle of a used bookstore, which is recycling. You sell your old books you no longer want and then you buy someone else's old books that they no longer want.
He never sells. He only buys. As near as I can tell, there are no books he doesn't want. He wants them all. Books come into the house, but they never go out.
I was once in the home of a judge and his wife who were both booklovers and had run out of space for their books, so they stacked them on the stairs. They had to walk single file to go to bed at night.
Booklovers don't care where the books are, just that they are close by. They don't have to be orderly; sometimes a lack of order is preferred. Books can be piled horizontally or vertically, stacked in rows, squeezed together or layered in a pyramid.
We have them on tables, shelves, in closets, under the stairs and in the bedroom stacked against a wall between the bed and an armoire "Baseball Diamonds of America," "The Best of Life," "Ernie Pyle's War." All that's missing is one of those laser scanners like the libraries have.
Football widows and golf widows don't have to contend with NFL players or PGA members taking up space in the house. For the most part, those passions are pretty well contained in an electronic box, on a field or a golf course.
Then again, football and golf widows are walking over warm bodies flipping between channels to watch two games or matches at once, while I have full control of the remote.
John Adams was a renowned book lover. He loved books so much that after his wife, Abigail, died, he often slept in a recliner in his library. I don't doubt the man loved books, but I wonder if the real reason he slept in the library was because the stairs were blocked.
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© 2008, Lori Borgman
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