Issue #3 of 2009 - I Threw Away a Book
I Threw Away a Book
I did something I have never done before.
I threw away a book.
I adore books. I respect the work and effort and skills of the authors, and could never even dream of throwing away a book. Ever.
Ever since I was a child my idea of a perfect room was one with bookshelves covering all the walls. In time I got what I dreamt about. Shelves and shelves of books. A cozy armchair and a reading lamp right next to my books - there just couldn ot be anything better than that, surely.
Actually I got a bit too much of a dream come true. If someone was going to throw away books, I rescued them. And now I simply had too many books. The shelves were full, I had piles of books on tabletops and floors. I usually read several books at the same time so I had opened books in every room almost, kitchen included. (Yes, I admit - I have the habit of reading a book when I eat…) If a paper was missing, you would probably find it between one of my books as a bookmark.
That there were too many books became too obvious when we moved. (The reason for the delay of this newsletter) For a month we sorted our belongings and threw and gave away anything we did not need. Including books.
There were many modern novels which a neighbor gladly took - she was a member of a reading circle and they were always on the lookout for books. The rest that we did not want to keep we donated to the Salvation Army and Red Cross flea markets. Summer is a good time for them to sell books when people search for something to read on their vacations. And that way the income from the sales went to a good cause.
One day I went through some old books. I think they had come to me when my mother-in-law informed me an old lady she knew was going to throw away old books. I ran to the rescue, of course. There were not just any books - but stories that were a part of my childhood too. We had read them at school when we were getting acquainted with old literature. And these were printed right after the Second World War. The books in themselves were probably of no value - cheap paper, cardboard covers… Books from an era of poverty. But as they say - never judge a book by its covers. It is the story that counts.
I had not noticed this old book before. I curiously leafed through it to get some idea what it was about.
And I was shocked. It was written by a person who obviously had some issues with a certain group of people. I am not going to specify what this group was, as it is irrelevant in itself.
With horrow I read how the author used words sweeter than honey - often skillfully knitting religious phrases into the narrative for more credibility - to judge the way of life of others (who, I may say, did not threaten anyone - I have people of this group as my friends and they are just as ordinary as the next person). He was writing like he was a teacher talking to children, trying to persuade them to agree he was right to say these people should not even be allowed to be a part of the society. And it was the religious approach that really made his words all the more dangerous. He was carefully enveloping his message of hatred in the words of a religion of love.
I have grown to believe we all are valuable and worthy, despite our differences. We all strive for happiness, and if we are normal people, we enjoy good relations with others. So even if we come from different cultures, we have common ground in our basic humanity. We all want happiness, security, a good family life, friends, good relations with our neighbors - and not to be judged by others simply because we are of a certain group, religion, ethnicity or gender. To judge those is a cheap attempt to raise oneself above others, to be "better than thou". True self esteem is a completely different thing...
I stood there, looking at those carefully honey-coated words of hatred. I closed the book, walked into the kitchen and for the first time in my life I dropped a book into the garbage. And I felt it fit in nicely among the banana peels, dust balls and moldy onions.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
The way I was absorbed into the written world taught me early on the power of words.
This episode with a hate-book made me even more determined to keep on writing positive, uplifting stories. For my own part I would like to spread a little joy and humor and belief in things good and beautiful.
I hope you find my stories to be all the above things.
Wishing you a wonderful day!
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Leena Pekkalainen is a writer who specializes in inspirational short stories that uplift the reader. You will find her stories and positive attitude tips at https://www.inspirational-short-stories.com
This article about throwing away a book was first published in Inspirational Short Stories newsletter.
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