Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intimate Strangers

I borrowed a book from the library titled Intimate Strangers: The Letters of Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy.

When I was flipping through it today, a piece of paper tumbled out. On the top of one side is a short type-written paragraph in French about Roy’s book Rue Deschambault. Beneath is a beautiful cursive script, again in French, with an overview of the book and comments about reading Intimate Strangers and finding their friendship quite funny.

The note isn’t signed and appears to be incomplete. It ends with a question – written below and with a different pen – comment ‘y prendre quelqu’un. This question, translated literally as ‘how to take someone’ has to do with the perceptions we make of someone, the way we feel after a meeting.

How to take an anonymous note left in a library book? I love that it’s there. I like this glimpse into the thoughts of someone – even though I don’t know whose thoughts I’m glimpsing. But if I could guess from the handwriting, I’d definitely say it’s an older woman since the penmanship is quite lovely.

I enjoy lending books to friends and often encourage them to write some comments down when they return it – or leave a bookmark in the book. I like to create bookmarks from things lying around when I’m reading – photos, notes, ticket stubs, etc. which I then leave in the book after putting it back on the shelf (books I own that is). When I open the book again, these bookmarks hold memories of the last time I opened these pages. I have a few books with an additional bookmark from a friend – another layer which I enjoy.

I’m now quite tempted to leave behind little notes in books I borrow from the library – or maybe even a photo with some musing jotted on the back. I wonder if a librarian would remove these? Perhaps I’ll need to be subtle, to sneak it in there. Would someone else enjoy it – or would it be tossed out without a glance. Regardless, I think I’ll give it a try. There may just be someone else out there who, like me, enjoys the camaraderie of written words.

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