An old book is lying next to me, and it begs me to pick it up and read it. The imperfections of it make me feel as if this book has lived, and that it wants to be cherished for a long time to come.
The cover is wrinkled, the pages discoloured and I sense that a lot of time thinking about the content has happened. It is beginning to have that old book scent, the scent only loved by true bibliophiles.
It makes me want to revisit my old library, imperfect because all available space has been filled by other books, yet cherished because I know every corner of the library and what hides in them. The old, creaking seats I used to sit in, to fall under another book’s spell.
Imperfect yet loved because the books are not completely sorted by the general Dewey library classification system and I want to start putting them the right way… happy memories of classifying hundreds and hundreds of books, cherishing the fact that each one had a story behind the story.
Imperfect yet liked because it was often a lonely place, leaving me time and space to drift away between rows and rows of knowledge. People stay away from libraries these days and choose digital formats instead of the books of old.
Imperfection to me will always be the introduction of digital book readers because books still deserve to be cherished, softly handled and looked at with surprise and admiration. Each one of them has been a work of art, hard labour and soft musings of hopes and dreams.
Imperfection is I, not being able to work in a library anymore, not being able to work anymore, period. A library is a quiet yet very revealing imperfection, because it will never be able to hold all the books in the world, and it will only show its contents to those who really want to see it. Yet I cherish it because it makes me yearn even more for unpublished and unread books.
I hope that the fact that my own imperfections will maybe lead me to the day when I can write a book as good as those I loved for years: James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, the old teenage books I so loved growing up and many more.
My cherished imperfections will always be books, old and new, poorly written or not, mishandled and forgotten.
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013