It was a scary and also amusing realisation to make. As I awkwardly climbed into a friend’s car, one hand went into my coat to retrieve the copy of The Elephant Vanishes that I had brought out for her. She eyed the brightly coloured cover of the secondhand American edition suspiciously, but I reassured her that the text was quite readable and the pages of a texture that was comfortably tactile.
‘Oh go on,’ I said, ‘There’s some great short stories in this collection, not to be missed.’
‘I guess…’ and she was sold on it. With a quick glance out to the street, she accepted the book from me and tucked it into her bag.
I… have a confession to make. Ever since I discovered the joy of library cancellation sales, charity bookfairs and shops, garage sales and remaindered bookstores I have developed two terrible habits that many bibliophiles will recognise. The first is my inability to pass up a very good book at a very good price. While I don’t have multiple copies of every book I own, I often end up with well-worn collections of classics and my most favourite authors’ works.
Perhaps thanks to this I have developed my other terrible habit. I am a book pusher. I like to hook people up with authors, genres and formats that suit them best. I have always encouraged friends to borrow the books I think suit them best from school libraries, but when my pocket money increased and I found myself in a world of books priced between twenty cents and five dollars, I was able to do so much more. Books need to be read, appreciated, and so I slowly fell into the practice of simply giving books to friends when the occasion arose.
Sometimes people pay me back, or respond in kind with some books of their own. But to be honest, I really just love connecting the people I love with the books I love. Which leads to me skulking around in the city centre, pockets and bag full of books and feeling like a dirty old dealer of enjoyable fiction.