Sunday, February 14, 2010

Collecting Dog Books: Legacies

There are books you inherit, and books you pass along. Just as time parts us from our dogs but never from their love, books as legacies express our love for dogs and each other.

You may have no influence over the choice of books someone leaves you, but you can at least provide for them (do they need cleaning or repair, and if they're not to your taste, where will they be appreciated?). Or you may make some discoveries (what might you learn from someone else's preferred reading, especially if there are revealing annotations?). You might think of these books as homeless dogs: some you foster until they're permanently rehomed, others never leave your side and you're forever thankful that they came your way.

Have you provided for your own collection's future? Do you have a record of the titles that comprise your collection, with notes on provenance and other pertinent factors? Whether they’re destined for charity, an institution that will house them for research, or loved ones who will treasure them, your books deserve a future, so ask yourself if they need some care. When did you last give them a good dusting?

Starting a collection for someone else is an especially happy task. It may be the top twelve fiction titles on the German shepherd for someone who admires the breed but lacks your knack for finding good reads. It might be the foundation of a lifetime’s love of books and dogs for that grandchild who’s on the way, ranging from the stories you remember from childhood to some choice collectibles you inherited from your grandparents or lucked into at last week’s yard sale. Keep notes, to pass along with the books, on why you chose them and what they meant to you.

Above all, book legacies remind us that books are worth sparing from the printed volume’s equivalent of the dog pound that is not a no-kill shelter.

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