Books Cannot Be Owned

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 ;-)