Paradoxical boxes – PresseLib
Pierre and I like to argue. Without a few friendly spats, our relationship would be smooth and tepid. So, to protect ourselves from the boredom that awaits those who have known each other for such a long time, we throw the topics we discuss and argue into the air.
The latest one is small, funny, but also invasive. Thus, for several years now, thin wooden places of worship, commonly called “reading boxes”, have been flourishing in the squares, squares, and public spaces of cities – and even villages. The principle is simple: freedom and a tip. Anyone is free to drop or take a book from the box and there is nothing to pay. The magic: the book is free!
Since both Pierre and I are ardent defenders of the book and lovers of reading, one would have to be seriously twisted to find a germ of discord there. Well, we found it!
This is because Pierre and I are book lovers, but lovers of a different texture: I have my calm and discreet loves, he is the ayatollah of passion!
While I found many virtues in these little boxes, Pierre – loud words and abundant gestures – left in his indignation. For him, those boxes are, at best, only a dumping ground for bad literature, and at worst, a common tomb of maids where a few scavengers come to steal to make money. I could not dispute his argument on this point, since I had recently witnessed this practice (1).
But to lessen Pierre’s annoyance, I told him the story of my city wanderings: ” I walk around the city less and less at random: my circle is unconsciously outlined by the presence of reading boxes… I don’t know if I know them all, but the ones I have identified have become necessary stages on my way. Each has its own personality. I believe they are markers of the sociology of the neighborhood in which they are located. There is the Saint-Joseph church where works of literary analysis are located (many students live here); that of Lawrence Park is a box of old pensioners (with its tales of undying love, Harlequin abounds); that of Verdun is rather technical in tone; the one about the castle – normally – tells a lot about history…
And there is this box, very far from the crowd and noise of cars. It is located under an oak tree bordering the promenade. Everything here exudes peace; you can only hear the chirping of some birds, the hissing of hammers and the laughter of two or three little ones… The box has three shelves, all abundantly filled. Someone who loves classification must have gone through this because the usual clutter in this area is no longer appropriate. On the bottom shelf, the one within reach of the child, there are Mickeys, Placid and Muso, Max and the maxi-monsters, Louis is on the move, Sushi tears the bunny, Poil de carotte and Little Prince with crumpled pages from reading… On the middle shelf are detective novels (banal: it’s the easiest book to get rid of once you’ve read it), and the superior shelf is incredible; I experienced nice surprises there. I will spend the entire afternoon navigating from this shelf to a nearby bench. I set a rule for myself: I don’t choose, I trust chance: I reach out and take the first book I can get my hands on and devote at least a quarter of an hour to reading it. Here are the results: The Executioner’s Song (Norman Mailer), Things Hidden Since the Beginning of the World (René Girard), The Man We Believed In (Paul Pavlowitch), La Désirade (Jean-François Deniau), I Am That Underlines (Nina Berberova) and The Je -ne-sais-quoi and the Almost Nothing (Wladimir Jankélévitch) for which I reserved a special fate: that one, I did not return it to its shelf, I kept it for myself and its meticulous reading occupies a large part of my nights. As it is now covered with notes, it will never return to the book case. He became one of my bedside friends. »
(1) I put a beautiful travel book in a box, I found it a week later on the shelves of a bookstore for 8 euros.