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|How incredibly like a bookstore my home has become. Books inhabit every inch of my 3-bedroom townhouse and the melding aromas of coffee, leather and incense are relaxing and inviting. My collection is an impressive one. Everyone who stops by comments on how beautifully displayed they are. My pedantic passion began as a child with my collection of The Little Golden Books, and now at 43, I’ve amassed a substantial literary library.
“How many are there in all?” asked my neighbor Rita last year, in awe of the masses of leather-bound volumes lining the walls and ceilings of my living room.
“10,569,” I shrugged casually. It has since grown considerably. There are now 17,391.
Neighbors, friends, and even passersby constantly visit to examine my tome-lined walls. Since Mona’s memorial service, my house has become a haven for all sorts of people, writers, philosophers, singers, songwriters, doctors, lawyers, models and vagrants—book lovers of all kinds. I can never turn away a fellow bibliophile. Books are our passion—after all.
My favorite collection is the Bible one. I keep it in my master bathroom under lock and key in an exquisite glass-encased 16th Century mahogany bookcase. I found the bookcase during my one and only vacation to Europe on my 35th birthday. I decided to visit as many antique bookshops in England as possible and found it in a small bookshop behind a pub in Devonshire. The owner, a man in his late 80s, was dismantling his bookshop. He even offered to pay the shipping if I purchased it on the spot. How could I refuse such an offer? I remember paying him the $1000 he requested with my credit card because it was the only purchase I’d made with a credit card in my life.
This bookcase holds Bibles from all over the world, including one written in Sanskrit. My favorite Bible however, is my great aunt’s 1927 King James Edition Bible in Spanish. I remember sitting at her feet as she read it aloud to us during morning devotionals at home. Mona and I had memorized all the Psalms. We’d recite a few as we prepared breakfast together each morning. I’ve placed this Bible on the top shelf with a special oxidizing film encasement to preserve its silk-like pages and intricate leather binding.
I picked up a new addition for my Bible collection this morning at St. Catherine’s Monastery. It was the Bible used by Bishop Martin during my sister’s First Communion. It’s been 13 years since my sister Mona’s death and having a piece of her past is very comforting.
As I returned home with my newly acquired gem, I saw her sitting on my front stoop. It couldn’t be Mona, but the resemblance was uncanny. She followed me into my book haven and began to examine the Benjamin Franklin collection.
“Do you sell any of them?” asked this thin teenage girl from behind the stack of books on my dining room table. She seemed nervous, her sallow complexion hidden behind huge black glasses and long black hair. She was wearing a torn t-shirt, ripped jeans and, from her appearance, I guess was living on the streets.
“Which one are you interested in?” I asked.
“This one,” she said pushing her thick black glasses up on her nose and handing the small Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin to me.
“This book is in it’s original first edition binding. It’s worth approximately $300,” I said to her examining the historic piece of literature in my hands.
“Oh, thanks anyway,” she said and turned to leave.
‘I concluded at length, that the people were the best judges of my merit…’ I quoted Ben aloud as she reached for the front door.
‘…for they buy my works’, she completed the quote still staring at the doorknob in her hand.
“You’re in luck, miss. This one is on sale,” I said with a glimmer in my eye “It’s 99% off.”
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