It’s been several years since I bought my first e-reader. That, along with audio books or audio downloads, has become my preferred method of reading. I still like “real” books, as one friend calls them. However, while checking my list of books I’ve read, I realized that one year I had read only one print book. I was disappointed in myself. We have enough books scattered throughout the house for me to read the rest of my life. So why were they being ignored? Or were they?

Although I wasn’t reading the books, I would often take one out, thumb through it, and promise myself to read it “one day”. Even though I’ve hardly made a dent in the treasures on our bookshelves, I have been reading more “real books” lately. Even when I don’t read my printed books I still think of them as treasures…as beautiful books.

There are a few that are truly beautiful. These are ones I’ve bought as much for their handsome covers and bindings as for their content. The books are usually of good quality but, with a few exceptions, are not leather bound. I’ve bought several sets of books at our local library’s book sales. Some in good condition, others less than fair. Even when in less than good condition, there is something appealing about a set of books.

Recently I was moving one of the sets to a less crowded shelf. These were an early 20th century set of French Classical Romances. The books were in barely fair shape when I bought them, and had certainly not fared well throughout the years. They certainly weren’t anyone’s idea of beautiful books, but I saw their beauty in the fact that someone had thought enough of these novels to put them into a collection.

Some of the pages were loose, but that could be fixed with book tape. But there was a more serious problem. The spines were literally coming off the books in pieces. I’m sure being squeezed in with so many other books hadn’t helped them. I went online and took a brief look at preparing books spines. I say “brief” because I quickly realized it wasn’t in my nature to do the work required, especially on only fair quality books. I decided that particular set would be best with the newly taped pages, but the outsides left as is.

I set them on the shelf, broken spines and all. Chances are I’d probably never read all of them. Of course I might read one or two, which means I would have to tape the outside to keep those books from falling apart. That would mean the other books would look even worse…OK, OK I give up!

So I gave up (somewhat) and decided to buy a decorative roll of duct tape to repair the spines. I knew that wasn’t the proper solution, but at least the books would stay together and should look better. So on a trip to Wal-Mart I looked for something appropriate. None of the designs or colors seemed right, except the gold. But did I really want that? Wouldn’t it give the books a sort of PWT look? Well, they couldn’t look any poorer or white-trashier than they already were. So gold duct tape it is!

I began repairing the books, going through each one to tape pages I may have missed. The first book was repaired and the gold tape looked surprisingly decent. Finally the last book was done and they were all back on the shelf. There was nothing outstanding about them, but they now looked respectable.

But these books need something more to show that they were important, that they meant something. They didn’t fill the entire shelf, so there was space for a decoration to complement them. But what? A search of stored away items didn’t turn up anything, until I noticed a round, gold box that had held a Christmas gift. That should work nicely. Then on a small shelf I spied a miniature sugar and creamer of my grandmother’s – a pretty, little white set with a gold fleur-de-lis design. It just fit on top of the box! How perfect!

So the decorative items are now next to the set of books, which are proudly wearing their strong, new and quite attractive spines. Now they know that they are respected and loved. Now they are truly Beautiful Books.


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