Today i realized that this has been a year in which i have had very little contact with books, or rather books i had listed in my ‘new year (2014) resolution’ to read. Among them is Chimamanda’s Purple Hibiscus (i feel like am the only one who hasn’t read it) and Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner. Am in the second chapter of the latter, am yet to purchase Purple Hibiscus.
Now, there is this shoemaker right opposite the place i stay who has read most of the books i intended to read. As a matter of fact he has gone through my entire library; there is not a single book i own that he hasn’t read. Yesterday he asked whether i have added more and i said no, i kind of felt a little guilty, like he was a kid and i had promised to get him a new bike and i didn’t.
He is a book lover, and book lovers are very obvious, they stand out like a strobe in the dark. He got quite a selection of books which he proudly displays next to a stack of repaired/retreaded shoes one would actually be forgiven to think that they are catalogues for the shoes on display.
He is living example of ‘never judge a book by its cover’; a stranger would just take him to be a kawaida cobbler who probably parted ways with schooling when he was 10 years. It’s not until you get to know him and see the books he read that you adjust your specs, look at him a second time with more respect and awe.
So when i was passing by yesterday i glanced at his pile of books and asked whether he was planning to start a side hustle selling books. He laughed and said that he had read each one of them and just felt a need to display them.
I don’t know whether all book lovers do this, show off their passion by displaying their collection. I am 100% guilty of it; i keep telling my wife how i love my bookshelf to be placed at a particular corner of the house where there is ample natural light so i can see all my books in the splendour and glory. It gives me a lot of pride to tell my visitors the story of my books, how i acquired them, for what reason and why i think they are superb.
Just like i talk about the numerous coins i have in a plastic jar. My wife asked why i keep them and i told her it’s like a hobby, dates back to my pre teen days when our favourite pastime was collecting stamps and boasting about it in our pen pal profiles!
Only 90s kids would remember the pen pal thing and how long you had to wait for a reply!
Like i said, the shoemaker has read all my books. He returned each one of them intact, not even a sign of shoe glue or dust particles on them yet he reads them in his open air ‘kibanda’. That impresses me. Returning my books with marks, dirt, folded and torn pages is a crime though not punishable by law, but one which would automatically qualify you never to touch, borrow or even think of my books.
Am not being an extremist here, no. I guard what i love jealously, my books being among them. A book will always be there when you need some inspiration or a ‘conversationist’ whose only way of conversing is through prose and syllables and hyperboles and eish like that.
I dislike it when i lend someone a book in goodwill and they return it looking like it belonged to a soldier in World War 1. That if the book had a life, it would spend the rest of its days in serious therapy due to trauma and gross mishandling. Tearing a page or yanking off its cover perhaps, i donno to use it as tissue paper, roll weed or light a fire is a serious crime; it’s like nipping a cat’s tail just for the heck of it.
Have you ever seen a cat happy with a nipped tail?
So my rules when it come to my books are very simple; don’t fold, don’t tear, don’t highlight anything on them without my permission (trust me, permission will never be granted) and please if you cannot return them better than you found them, at least do so as they were when i lent them to you.
With that, am printing out book marks to give to whoever borrows any of my books in future!