Books Cannot Be Owned

Sun 25 January 2009

Wikihow's How To Stop Accumulating Books has been making the rounds in blogs and delicious popular. Reminds me of the ultimate book non-accumulator, a good friend of my dad's.

This particular friend of my dad's would always bring me books when he came to visit. I was a voracious reader, to the point where people made fun of me for it, so I always loved his visits. And he brought interesting books - not children's books, but histories, etc. I think he brought me Animal Farm when I was 8 or 9.

As I got older I started to notice something odd about the books - they didn't belong to him.

Eventually I found out he didn't own any books. He'd take a book from you, read it, and give it to someone else. Usually without permission.

I was fascinated. I remember asking him about it, and he told me: books cannot be owned. Ideas are the ultimate expression of freedom, and to cage them is unnatural. Books are for reading and for passing on.

That made a big impression on me. I've always thought sharing books with friends is the most amazing gift.

Anyway, that's why I've never returned that book you lent me ;-)