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by Niamh Rich
The OED defines value as something of worth or quality. In other words, something that has great meaning to you. Arguably everyone’s idea of value varies, based on what it is that you are talking about. Likewise, the value associated with a book varies, based on who it belongs to. Everyone judges value differently.
There are various times when a book might be valuable, and it can be found in the endless piles of books as you realise, they mean more than you first thought. To decide one book, or a collection has value, could be hard because the scenario in which you buy or receive the book changes how you value it. The memories attached almost become part of the story itself.
A book as a gift: Such are the penguin hardback classics, or the tradition of being bought a book every year by a family member. This means when you pick up that book to read it, you see a sentimental value because as a gift they hold a special place in your heart. You might not have bought this book for yourself. Therefore, as a gift, when you read it you feel a connection with the person that bought it for you – they come into your memory as you read it.
“Inheriting a book:” Whether you gain it from a grandparent or another family member, this book provides you with something from their childhood. This gives the book sentimental value. You can see their lives, alongside the memories the book has gone through (before you received it). The book becomes valuable because it has a piece of them in it, and it comes with the book to you. This adds a layer of memories to it that you wouldn’t have had if you had bought it in a shop.
“The first book you buy:” The first book you choose to buy is what made you a reader. It holds the memories of how you found enjoyment in reading or the reason you bought the book, like for a holiday. The book holds value as it might be what influenced your decision to be a literature student or teacher. The memories attached to the book, associate it with the aspects that came with you deciding to buy it in that moment, adding value to it, as that purchase could have been a life altering decision that makes you who you are today.
All books are valuable. But the memories attached to them are what add the most value. Whether it’s part of the rainbow bookshelf or a pile in the corner of your room, the story and the memory behind every book is what adds value to it, not necessarily the book itself.