I picked up a pretty large stack of books today from someone on the Freecycle list. Most of them are ones I’m not really interested in reading, so I’m re-freecycling them, but they are here in a stack on my table right now staring at me with their sad eyes. Why are they sad? Because they’ve been in the book crossing system. They are orphan books with no rightful home.
I don’t have a problem with book crossing – I mean, I’m participating in freecycling them too, so that’s almost the same thing, except that I plan to keep the ones I’m keeping – adopt them into the family, if you will. The problem I have is what has been done to these books in the name of free reading. They’ve been taped up, stamped up, and stickered almost to their deaths. They are pretty sad looking.
I don’t mind ugly books, but I like my ugly books to have been “born” that way or worn that way – not made that way on purpose. These all have a significant amount of packing tape holding big paper labels taped to their covers which say, “FREE BOOK!! SEE INSIDE COVER FOR DETAILS…” On their spines they have little book tags taped on. The bottom of the books’ pages have a red stamp across the paper that says “FREE B. C. BOOK” and inside the front cover there is yet another obnoxious tag taped very securely in place.
There is no doubt about the intent of these books: They were made into trading goods. And maybe more people will read them this way. But I suspect they will keep trading hands and trading hands and trading hands unread.
I saved about 9 from this pile and will lovingly and carefully remove their sticky tattoos and make an intentional home for them on our shelves and sometime – yes, eventually it will happen, sometime they will get read.