Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adopting Needy Books

Sometimes I buy books I already own simply because I feel sorry for them. Like stray kittens, they beg to be taken home.

Our library has a little used bookstore which is run by the Friends of the Library. Today I was browsing through their display of Christmas books and discovered a copy of The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was a paperback and quite new looking. I picked it up, fondly remembering how many times I've read this book, both to myself and to my children. Inside the front cover was an inscription which wrung my heart.

"To our sons and perhaps someday our grandchildren: This is a very precious book. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have. Love, Mom & Dad."

What happened? How did this book end up in the donation box at the library? It shows little sign of having been read. Did the sons not share their parents' taste? Did they become football jocks instead of bibliophibians? Did the boys leave the book behind when they left home? In that case, what happened to the parents? Were they eaten by a rampaging rhinoceros? Surely they would not have discarded this book had they been alive and well.

Moved by anxiety and pity, I paid for the book and took it home. I already have a hardcover copy, but perhaps I can find this paperback copy a good home.