My sister and I exchange books. We hang out in used bookstore looking for some author to take home for the night. And we’ve found some great books that way.
Last week, one of my colleagues at work expressed his conflict between wanting to write and finding time to write. A few days later, I lent him Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. It’s a copy I bought at a used bookstore in Japan several years ago. This colleague had recently purchased a book about sauces and had been reading that. So a small community of three voices was formed: the author who talks about food, Anne who talks about writing, and the man himself. Now, he is writing again, stories based on his conversations with those two authors.
A book is the earliest recording device, a way to preserve a voice, to converse with people in the future. The quill, pen, recording button, or keypad, allows the author’s voice to escape linear time and to live forever in the present. Of course, forever is longer for some authors than others.
Back in Japan, I think Anne was hanging around that bookstore waiting for me. She needed to meet someone new, and so did I. In a very low-tech way, I made a link to her voice by passing along her book.
While we like to think we find books, it’s probably closer to the truth that books find us.