They call me mellow yellow: On the joys of old books

I am currently researching a paper that involves reading quite a bit of philosophy. Most of the books I get out for my political science papers are at least twenty years young, but I have a copy of Beyond Good and Evil from 1955 and a copy of The Happiness Hypothesis, that although only from 2006 it’s years could be measured in dog years, as opposed to human due to the bends and minor abuses it has suffered. There is something nice about a book that has been well loved and abused before you got it, especially if it has been around longer than anyone you know. It has character, and you don’t have to break it in — somebody has already taken care of it for you. The first thing I do when I start a brand new book is bend the cover all the way over — you can tell when I have read a book because the cover will not lay flat. My books live in my backpack and on my floor. They are dropped and abused, but also read, enjoyed and experienced. With an older library book part of me is impressed that it has survived so long — maybe people at my school just don’t read that much Nietzsche. I am a part of it’s journey. I will have it briefly and then it will go back to where it came, to be used for another paper, or better yet, fun. Libraries remove the need to own books. It is not yours, you have it briefly for however many pages and then it goes back. You are part of a larger collective experience of that book.

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