Artwork by Molly Yu

I’ve worked in this library for as long as I can remember. I’ve kept watch and cared for a countless amount of books. Shelves upon shelves of history, knowledge, and memories tucked away, each with its own story to tell, each with its own lessons to be taught and learned. Books come and go; as they become outdated, they’re removed. As they get printed and new ones are written, they’re given their own spot in this world.

Now, something you probably don’t know about these books is that they’re all unique in their own way, not unlike people. You’ll think, “Of course they are, they can be big or small, red or blue, thick or thin.” Well, don’t judge a book by its cover. We all have favourite books – our best friends, if you will. But you didn’t choose your best friends because of their pretty yellow sweaters. You picked them because of what was written on their pages, chose them based on real substance and what lay beneath the surface. At least, I really hope you did. In a way, books are like that too.

After hearing this statement, you’ll still think, “Well, of course. There are chemistry books, and there are romance novels, history books and cooking manuals.” And to that, I say you’re still thinking too simply.

Occasionally you’ll meet a new book, perhaps get to know it over coffee; you’ll love it so much you will have to re-read it. Eventually, you may treat it like your lifelong best friend. Then you may find a book that you’ll like for a while, but it’ll just be a book you read once so many years ago. Perhaps in the future, you’ll find it once more, and skim through the pages like you did before. There will be books that you don’t quite enjoy, and that’s okay. No one expects you to like everything but that doesn’t mean you should rip all its pages out. Someone may come along one day and like what that book has to say.

Books like to be shelved with books of similar interest. Usually, you’ll find that biology books tend to stick together, away from the fantasy novels that dream of faraway lands. Things are just naturally drawn towards similar things. It’s how the world works. But I’ll always find that one rebellious book who likes to hang with another crowd. Sometimes a misplaced copy of The Lorax will be lying on the plant shelf instead of with other Dr. Seuss books. If he speaks for the trees, perhaps he speaks to the trees as well, and that’s fine too. Just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with the jocks.

Then there are some books that like being alone, on their own side of the shelf, the ground, or a table somewhere. Other books get broken, lost, and forgotten.

The sad thing is, sometimes, you won’t even realize these books are gone.