Where do books go when they die?
October 21, 2014
IT SEEMS THAT I most of my life writing books.
Or reading books.
Or reviewing books.
Or blogging about books.
But one thought continually haunts me.
What happens to books when they die?
Books have life.
Their characters are real, even if on a printed page.
Those characters fall in and out of love.
They betray each other.
They hurt each other.
Sometimes they even kill each other.
They live in the present.
Or far in the distant past.
Or on a galactic star somewhere in the future.
But those characters, at least for three hundred pages or so, let us through the door so we can wander for a time in their world.
They break our hearts.
They frighten us.
They make us laugh.
They make us cry.
We love them.
We hate them.
And we miss them when they are gone.
But what happens when they leave us?
What happens when the final page is read and the book is closed, sometimes forever.
I ask again.
What happens when books die?
I went to a book burying ground last week.
It wasn’t a cemetery.
It was an antique store.
And there in a dusty corner I found shelf after shelf of books that have been neglected, abused, and forgotten.
They were the books that had died because when books are no longer read, they simply don’t exist.
It was a sad sight.
It grew even sadder.
One of the books was mine.
It had water-mark stains.
The book jacket was gone.
The cover was warped.
A page or two was torn, and almost all of them had yellowed,
I spent a dollar and bought it.
I don’t know who originally owned the book.
I don’t know who threw it aside or away.
I only know that those were my words inside.
And it was worth a dollar to give them a chance to live again.