A room without books is like a body without a soul. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
I love bookstores, love walking up and down the aisles surrounded by the many minds resting on the shelves, strolling next to voices that sit mute for days, weeks, years until someone reaches out a finger to caresses the spine, a hand that pulls the book off the shelf and opens the pages giving light to those words, freedom to those glorious words, allowing the words trapped for possibly decades to soar off the page, to move between minds separated by time, space, culture, and language.
Being in a bookstore can, for me, be overwhelming. When I walk in their midst, I hear them calling to me, begging me to help them breathe, to give them an avenue to share their hearts. I want them. I want them all. I want to take all of them with me. I want to give them a home, a place where they can be read, digested, loved, most of all, read and shared. I want to unleash those captive souls from the bondage of the bookstore where they must languish until someone chooses them.
It’s rare that I will walk out of a bookstore empty handed. I seem to always have a new friend tucked under my arm. It’s difficult to choose just one, to give one a home while the others are left behind, left behind desiring to be read. Today I walked out with Pablo Neruda. It could just as easily have been Maya Angelou or Eduardo Galeano or Vikram Seth or…or…or…
Sometimes I take a book home and fail to open it, fail to read it, fail to engage it in dialog. It sits on my shelf gathering dust and I feel guilty for ignoring it. I liberated it from the bookstore only to let it languish on my book stand ignored, starved for companionship.
It’s frustrating to me that there are so many books, so much knowledge at my disposal, so many voices to be heard, so much brilliance in those pages, and, if I lived another 100 years and read 24 hours a day, I would still have too little time to love them all.