Sunday, February 5, 2012


I met a traveler from an antique land...

Believe it or not, every now and then I have to dispose of books. Shocking, I know. But for an avid acquirer of books, there's only so much space one can give to one's hobby. New books come in and in and in, and eventually the children want to know why their bed pillows have been replaced with paperbacks stuffed into shams. That's when I know it's time for a cull.

We have donated books to the library and charity auctions, and passed them along to friends. Even though parting with books stings, I know they're going to good homes. This is the only way I can bear to do it.

But there are some books that always give me pause as I sort through the stacks, deciding what stays and what goes. These books I pull from the shelf, open the front cover, and smile--sometimes wistfully, sometimes joyously. These books were gifts.

When I encounter the books people have given me over the years, they take me back to a particular point in time as effectively as a photograph. They represent where I was in my life, or where the giver was in his / her life. The inscriptions written inside are as meaningful to me as the text of the book itself.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

This one was given to commemorate a graduation.

Graduation Day

One gift represented a time of youth and discovery, of the blossoming fire that comes with embracing life and forging new relationships.

I just want you to know that your Friendship has become shockingly important
in such a short period of time. I want you to know I only give this book to people who are
special, so I guess that means something. Yeah, I'm rambling now.

I've received some that are pure nostalgia.

May you live all your life with the words and wisdom of Rhyme and Reason...

And one that's traveled the world, finding its way into the hands of several burgeoning writers, with multiple inscriptions to go with it.

This is from a waitress in a cafe in Flagstaff.
"Writing down the Bones"
I love you! --and I know you'll do it all!!
May this help guide you through your quarter-life crisis.

Beautiful books that are a joy just to hold and admire.

A special book for a special person! Chase all those dreams.

And others to mark the changing seasons of my life.

The greatest thing I ever did was become a mother. May you always honor your stewardship.

And yes, there are books from loves past.

These inscriptions are not for you.

Nothing beside remains.

Some of the people who have given me books are no longer in my life. People change and drift apart. Time separates us. Wounds run too deep to heal. But the books, the words on my shelf, stand testament to what once was. 

The weight of the book, the smell of the paper, the intimacy of words written in ink; these connect me to times long gone in ways both concrete and insubstantial. They are brief visits with old friends, fleeting memories of love shared, evidence of affection given and received. These will always have a special place on my shelf and in my heart.

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Thanks and apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley


  1. I have a book sitting on my bedside table that granny gave me when I had the measles when I was in 2nd 0r 3rd grade. It always makes me smile :)

  2. This post made my heart throb and my eyes tear up. Bullseye!

  3. Books are the best gifts, truly <3