Last night I went to a local used bookshop, called Frugal Muse, with my fiancée. We looked around various sections…I always veer towards the religion/philosophy section, and Krissy towards the young adult/children’s section. Frugal Muse has a great variety of books…old and new, all very well priced, and a good atmosphere in general. We had already spent a considerable amount of time that evening at the used section of Barnes and Nobles, so we didn’t end up buying much. After we had checked out, we were walking towards the exit, but ended up looking at a few more books.
We eventually found ourselves in the old/antique/vintage/etc book section. I don’t know if I always appreciate it, but there’s something about old books that draws me to them. Part of it is the way they look. Faded covers that used to be a vibrant red leather, now worn and torn. And then there’s the feel…the yellowed pages are crisp and brittle as you page through them. But my favorite part is the smell. When you open up the pages, there is this smell…not an overwhelming smell. Sometimes you have to put the pages up to your nose and breathe it in to even know it’s there…but it’s always there with old books. Looking through these books was just amazing…most were from the early 20th century, but some were dated and inscribed from the middle 19th century.
As we browsed through this collection of books, one thing began to stand out to both of us. Most of them had some sort of inscription on them. Many were simply an owner’s name…many had dates, and a quick message – “Merry Christmas”, “With Love”, etc. Others had clues pointing towards location. Some were from public libraries, universities, or private libraries. One book I opened had obviously been well taken care of. Opening the front cover showed the following insert:
Private Library of Martin Lutech
If thou art borrowed by a friend, Right welcome shall he be.
To read, to study, not to lend, but to return to me.
Not that imparted knowledge doth diminish learning’s store
But books, I find, if often lent, return to me no more.
Flipping through the other books in the section, we found several other books from the same private collection of the Mr. Martin Lutech…numbering into the hundreds. He obviously had an extensive collection, organized by number, that he valued a great deal – taking the time to insert and mark each of his books. Several of them were dated, ranging from the 1920s through the 1930s. What struck me about this was that I was finding these books at a used book store. The kind of store where you bring in boxes of books and they give you a couple of bucks in store credit or cash. The kind of store where you bring in the junk that you don’t want.
And this is where Martin Lutech’s books ended up.
A couple of things struck me…
- For whatever reason, this man’s children and grandchildren did not have the same appreciation for books as their father or grandfather did. It made me wonder what other things of value, both material and immaterial, were not passed on to his descendants. What else did he love?
- What things that I love will not be passed down to those who come after me? Will it be the books that I love? Will it by photographs? Or maybe a system of beliefs and values? I can’t force anyone, whether children I may have someday, or anyone I encounter in this life, to cherish what I cherish. I hope and pray, that I live my life in a way that makes certain things stand out…certain values, certain ideas, certain loves. Can the way that I love something (and the way that I live based on that love) cause people to consider loving what I love?
What things do I love in such a way that impacts my life to the extent that it causes people to consider loving what I love?
What do you think?
(Obviously, I am not aware of what the circumstances were that caused Martin Lutech’s books to be taken to Frugal Muse in Madison, WI. Perhaps they were discarded by his family. Perhaps he had no family. Perhaps his family cherished them as much as he did, and circumstances outside of their control brought the books to Frugal Muse. There is no way to know, so my conclusions are based solely upon my immediate observations and conclusions about the situation…)