Around here, books are precious. So precious, in fact, that every time someone who would possibly be interested in them comes over, there’s an entire ritual dedicated to showing them The Books. Jared lures the unsuspecting visitor down to the basement with the promise of showing him his books, usually taking the opportunity to hold forth on the mysteries contained behind each colorful cover. Depending on the visitor and his level of interest, this ceremony can take up to an hour and a half.
Two years ago, I was shown Jared’s books. Although I didn’t realize it then, it was a monumental occasion, for Jared’s books are his vocation. He studies. He reads. He writes. And he laments how much more there is to read to even be up on the scholarship of the day, much less the scholarship of twenty years ago.
I’ve read 81 books so far this year, and have always thought of myself as rather a bookish person, but when it comes to serious scholarship, Jared is far beyond me. His book showings are him showing his deepest thoughts–his life, in fact. But we can’t take any of them with us to China.
Tomorrow we’re packing up our books. And it’s a little bit like packing away our lives. No more book showings–at least for the next few years. No more studying of these particular books; no more looking at the faces of our familiar friends.
There will be new faces in Beijing, new books, new places. But it’s hard to leave the ones you know and love so well behind.