What the hell ever happened to writing your name in a book you’ve just purchased or inherited? That was such a neat thing to see when, usually with a used book, someone put their name and maybe the date inside the front cover. People still buy books. I’ve seen them do it. Coles, Chapters, Audreys books (shout out Edmonton) and used books stores are still in business. The advent of smartphones, tablets and e-readers hasn’t rubbed these places out yet and if it was going to happen it should have happened by now. HMV bit the dust not that long ago, but they had it coming, let’s be honest. If anything, the removal of that chain is probably a good thing.
Call me old fashioned, and many do, but seeing a name on a used book you’ve just found buried under a stack of copies of The Alchemist at your favourite used store is like discovering someone’s story. As if by fate, or maybe coincidence, you are now in possession of this piece. What’s mine is yours type deal. I’m not suggesting this will lead to peace treaties or a greater tolerance for what’s different, but it’s a start.
Much like how we’ve gone back to listening to records, since they sound better and allow more room for cover art, jotting down your name and date of when you picked up a book, for whatever reason, could be an enlightening experience. I’m sure your future self will appreciate it when you dig through those old copies of The Alchemist in your private library to find The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson and see the date for when you decided to stop giving a fuzz about things that aren’t important.
I’ve always thought that the pieces of art we own and collect become part of our story. There’s a time and a place and a feeling and a circumstance that brought this piece into our life and that, my friends, has all the fixings for a story. Looking back it can be refreshing to experience those moments. What you felt like the first time you heard Paranoid Android by Radiohead. Better yet, the first time you watched the video for Paranoid Android by Radiohead and said to yourself what the hell was that. On the literature front it, picking up a book that was passed along to you is just as effective, like the first time you met Holden Caulfield and started shooting the old bull with people.
Books aren’t going away for the time being so let’s all collectively hat tip the past, or in this case, hat tip the future by giving our cranky old selves a reminder of the who and when. The what, the where, the how and the why are for our own stories to tell. This is just the catalyst.