Monday, October 6, 2008

Book Orphans

I do this almost daily, on cue.
After I work-out at my gym, I visit Borders bookstore in Braintree. Sometimes, I go to the Barnes and Noble a few miles away.
If I go to Borders, I must have a Cocoa Trio (hot chocolate, even in summer.)
If I go to B & N, I grab a triple chocolate-chunk cookie and Fiji water. (I know , I know, I completely kill my work-out but it's one of my many quirky habits.)
But I also do something else at both stores.
With cookie or Coco Trio in hand, I gingerly walk over to the Fiction section. Like a proud and concerned parent, I squat down and check up on them - my babies, my novels.

I can't help it. People who are with me whenever I do these runs think I'm a little, well, strange for doing this but they say they understand. I bet they would do the same exact thing if one of their books lined the shelves. Okay, maybe not but fellow authors would probably relate.
When I do this, I wonder if any copies remain, how many have sold. Sometimes, the shelves are empty, awaiting a new delivery. Other days, only one remains of Boston Boys Club or Miami Manhunt. They sit side-by-side, like literary siblings, keeping each other company. I tightly grin when I see them.
After spending 6-8 months in labor (push, push, push!) writing them and then giving birth to them, I can't help but feel protective of my books. Once they are born, they are pried from my hands and distributed for adoption. Parts of me out there in the world for someone to receive. Book orphans.
I wonder if they ended up with a nice reader who will enjoy them and give them a nice home on their bookshelf and appreciate them. I imagine my books being cared for and appreciated as heirlooms.
I wonder where these pieces of my heart and soul go. When I see that some copies have sold and none remain, I smile inwardly knowing that they're out there, somewhere, for the world to read with their new foster parents.

(Photo above taken by a Boston reader visiting A Different Light bookstore in San Francisco. Thanks Joel!)

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