It’s strange, flipping through old books.
For me, “old” really only means five or six or seven or eight years. It’s been eight years and just as many apartments since I graduated college, so books, like everything else, tend to get shed along the way.
These days, I don’t bother writing my name in books. It seemed like a good idea, back when I planned to amass a library of my own; when one moves frequently, one is quickly disavowed of the idea of maintaining a library any larger than a couple boxes. I’ve long since stopped noting my ownership, because more often than not, the books are given away to a charity or a friend who might enjoy them, if not lent out indefinitely.
As such, it strikes a strange chord when I flip open a book and see the name and email address that I stopped using five years ago. I don’t remember why I picked up Angela’s Ashes, but I know I was reading it when Erin and I were first dating. Not long after I finished it, I bought ‘Tis and Teacher Man at the same time. ‘Tis would sit on my shelf for two more years, until I read it on our honeymoon; Teacher Man is still waiting for me, though at this point I feel I must re-read the first two and refresh my memory.
Like a particular song or album, good books become imprinted in my memory alongside the events of the time when I read them, and I can no longer remember one without the other. Soon enough, Teacher Man—like four or five others—will be inextricably tied, in my mind, to whatever exciting things happen in the coming months.