December 29, 2011


I went to my snooty second-hand bookstore the other day with five paperbacks. Two of them I’d purchased at another resale shop but three were new. They were all good reads so imagine my humiliation when all were rejected. 

Attempting to be philosophical about the snubbing, I returned the items to my book bag and slithered under the shop door into the streets.  “Oh well,” I thought.  “It’s their loss and the library’s gain.” Fortunately my trek wasn’t far but when I attempted to donate the books to the library’s retail store, they were rejected for a second time. The librarian was more discreet than the book buyer. She didn’t curl her lip with disdain when she suggested I put my offerings on the “free” shelf where people could pick them up without bothering to check them out.


I did as she asked but admit I left the place feeling inadequate. What was wrong with these books? They were all born in big publishing houses. They were in good condition?  Their contents were enjoyable, at least to me. What, then, was the source of their disparagement?  Were my tastes too wild? Too exotic? Top esoteric?  I thought not. Three were cozy mysteries and two were on contemporary political thought.   

As I left the library, I couldn’t help wondering about the future of my offerings. Would they find good homes or lie neglected on the shelf, collecting dust until a custodian finally swept them into the trash? Perhaps I’m foolish to identify with my books. But they were my personal choices and I know what rejection is. I’ve seen it in the eyes of a stranger who observes my cover and finds it wanting. On those occasions, like that day at the library, I walk away, wondering.