An encounter with an unexpected lover of books

18 July, 2011

It was a Saturday night and alas, I was doing laundry and continuing to unpack boxes from a recent move.  When I discarded some cartons in the recycling room on my complex, I noticed that someone had neatly stacked scores of books–good books–including pristine hardcovers and a tasteful selection of trade paperback fiction.  I could not help a slight contraction of upset at the thought that these books might be thrown out the next morning in the trash. A few minutes later, arriving with another load of cardboard boxes, I noticed that the books were gone, as well as my boxes.  I discovered them a few minutes later, neatly stacked in my discarded boxes next to the concierge’s desk.

“Do you like to read?,” I asked.  “Oh,” he said, his whole face lighting up.  “I just love to read!  And next year, my three children will be coming here permanently from Ghana, and they will be so happy to find all of these wonderful books.” I asked him what he liked to read, to which he replied with an ear-splitting grin:  “Everything!”

It was my turn to glow.  Now I know, when I next prune my ever-growing collection, to whom I can donate books.  My friend in the lobby does not own a Kindle, a Nook, or any other device, but taking possession of actual, physical books gave him incredible joy.  Would he have felt the same way if I offered to give him a free download?  Not a relevant one for the moment, but food for thought.

–Joelle Delbourgo