Library books are different. I don’t know why I say this exactly. It’s simply the truth. Library books hold a sprinkle of magic you don’t always get from the books you borrow from a trusted friend or pick up at the bookstore as “a little treat” for yourself.
Since I was little, my mom would take me to the library. Even then, it was a place of magic. I pushed my mom’s favorite mystery books back through the return slot. I stood on my tip-toes in front of the check-out counter where my very own public library card was being made. I signed my name on the back of the special plastic in five-year-old penmanship. I got to run through the shelves even though I had yet to figure out what I was interested in reading.
I held this wanderlust for libraries all the way into high school. I spent before, during, and after school sitting between the shelves towering over me and my lunch of peanut butter crackers. I would check out a minimum of three books each time to read during the day under my desk. Most of the time I would return the loved books the next day or soon after when me and librarian would be able to gossip about the main love interests. So many of my favorite books had come from the library. Whether it be Cassandra Clare, Sarah J Maas, or Stephanie Perkins, young adult books had captured my world and I was happy to live between each of the pages I checked out for days at a time.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, sitting between the shelves so often–Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could stay here forever?
I worried perhaps that it would be like at your favorite coffee shop you spend your weekends getting work done however, happily sniffing the latest cinnamon latte perfectly frothed, until you see the help wanted sign. What could be better than working here? You think, and decide to apply for the next four months of smelling like coffee beans and getting yelled that by customers that they ordered two percent over whole milk.
Yet still, as I figure out my life outside of weathered pages, I decided to risk the magic that I felt when I first asked myself that question while sitting between German literature and Shakespeare.
I sit behind the desk now and hand over library cards that are less and less let penned by five-year-old patrons. I stack children’s non-fiction that sometimes return sticky in perfect dewy-decimal order. Yet still, sometimes, in the quiet during a long shift when I wander off through the shelves, there is something about library books still surrounding me I see day after day. It doesn’t change the fact that library books hold something different than other books.
Something like magic.
Library books are stained and sometimes tattered. Pages are folded and discolored in places and ways where you don’t want to know the source. These books are the ones, though I flinch away at the sight as I pull it off the shelf afraid to do more harm, I only know will do good for me. They hold word after word that I read with abandon of real life. Sucking me in.
I mark the page I left off on with the tiny slip the librarian gives me stating how each book needs to be slid back down the returns shoot by its respective date. Though it may be almost a month away, I feel the need to sit down and read the entire novel RIGHT NOW.
I do not see anything wrong with this. Neither does the library book.
Library books after all are the most willing to be loved.
They are like that one friend you know who no matter how many dates they go on, how many significant others break their hearts, they are always willing to put themselves back out there again. They are willing to give their love and live life freely. Perhaps we can learn more from library books than just the words they contain.
I love how library books feel stacked in a pile ready to be checked-out in my arms. I like finding one I wasn’t looking for and adding to that pile as I scan the stacks. I love books. I love library books even more. They hold stories. So many stories and so many more than are simply told.
They hold many pieces of my own.