Twenty-three-year-old Alice Ozma’s new memoir, The Reading Promise, is all about the joy of reading: it chronicles the more than 3000 consecutive nights that she and her father, a single parent, spent reading aloud to one another. But does a love of reading translate to an apartment full of books? Ozma doesn’t think so—read on for more.
Books: Sharing the love
guest post by Alice Ozma
People always assume, when they hear that I’m an avid reader and that I wrote a memoir about my father reading to me for 3,218 consecutive nights, that I own tons of books. They make jokes about it when they visit my apartment, especially since I have a study. They imagine wall after wall, shelf after shelf, of big, sturdy books. And they’re shocked when they see what I have: one tiny bookshelf, up to about my knees, comfortably full but not at all jam-packed.
But the thing is, I just can’t bear to keep books to myself.
When I buy a book, it is almost always used. I love knowing that it’s been read, and loved, and passed along. It’s like wearing my grandmother’s jewelry. And once I own it, I can’t bring myself to break that cycle. Try as I might, even if I know I’ll want to reread it or reference it later, I can’t help but pass it on. Whether I donate it, or give it to a friend, or leave it in the break room at work, I am happiest when I imagine the book being read. It wasn’t made to sit closed and idle.
As a new author, I am keenly aware that the more “free” copies of a book float around, the less the person who wrote it makes. Even that does not deter my strange, insistent desire. I’ve heard the quote that love should be divided, not multiplied. It’s something we can’t just hoard.
The books I pass along may be dog-eared, tea-stained, and worn in some places. They may contain a few of my long, auburn hairs, or even a receipt that I used as a bookmark. But they’re brimming with love. True love gets dusty on a shelf.