So there I was, hanging out in my dorm room, reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Specifically, I was reading “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”.
“Oh, I bet it was the neice,” I thought, and then the book literally fell apart in my hands. Two large sections detached from the paper binding, and then pages started falling out. I did manage to read to the end of the story by carefully holding everything in place, but I left it alone for a while after that.
Luckily, I came home for Labor Day weekend. I brought the book and asked my mom if she could fix it. I may have mentioned that she works at the local library, so she’s fixed books before. She glued and taped it up so now I can read it again. Some of the pages stick out, but that’s fine. After all, I’m pretty sure I got the book at some rummage sale for a quarter, and the book’s got two separate price stickers on it, so I can bet it was resold even before that.
I actually rather like the idea of having a book that’s so old and so well read that it’s falling apart (even if it is a cheap paperback). There’s a kind of attraction to really making a book last. Sure, new books look pretty enough, but books that are worn are usually the most special.
For example, my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was given to me by my parents on my 9th birthday. Before that, I hadn’t heard anything about the series except from my mom, who’d heard that they were really popular and supposedly very good. And, of course, I fell in love with the series immediately, along with everyone else, and now I’ve read that book so many times that I lost track around 10. Not to mention the number of times I’ve lent it to all three of my siblings and my mom in turn. I love the book, but I love my copy of it more.
With my copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I picture all the people before me reading, enjoying, and faithfully passing on to the next reader. When it finally falls to me it has a history (perhaps 20 years old now, judging by the copyright) that no book sitting in Gatsby’s library with uncut pages can ever aspire to.* This book has character.
*Yeah, I just made a Great Gatsby reference. For those who don't know, books used to require page cutting before they could be read. Gatsby wanted the illusion of a great library, and the books were all real, but the uncut pages were proof that he had never read a single one.