How I love old books! Torn, stained unraveling books! My best friend recently gave me an old book from 1926, called Wisp:A Girl of Dublin by Katharine Adams. It was from a library in Charleston, West Virginia. The other night I discovered the library card sleeve and inside an original check out card; the most current return date was March 17, 1931! And here I hold it in my hands in March 2011! A little thing, but I find it haunting.
All throughout the book as I turn the pages, learning more and more about the characters, I find smudges and fingerprints- these people are all probably dead and buried now, but they live on through these now ghostly fingerprints; my thumb landed almost directly on top of a rouge colored thumb print as I turned a page. I get distracted from the story and wonder what the person who held this book in their hands 80 years ago was doing as they read. Was it for school they had to read it? What did they think of it?
There is a small scrap of paper that was probably once white; age has stained the paper and impressed its shadow on the pages. Some nights, I notice when I go to save my place for the night, I fold the top corners at the same places the readers before me have. There are sloppy little side notes and thread peeking out from the pages just before the title page. It is alive with the words of the author, but also with the marks of the people who brought it into their lives briefly. The book and its pages don't erase time or memory; a book gains more character- spirit as it is stained by Time. Books build layers of remnants that become part of the story for every new reader to discover. Not only can you learn from and be entertained by the words of these old volumes, you can FEEL and smell the history as your finger tips grace grains of time.
I don't ever want print to go away!