I've been knocking this around in my mind for a few days. Ever since I came upon the suggestion, I haven't been thinking as much about the books I might give somebody else but of the books I or somebody I know carried around. A friendly acquaintance I had in high school-- Nate-- used to carry around Tropic of Cancer. I used to carry around Siddhartha. My friend, Glen carried around The Satanic Bible, partly for shock value. Another friend often carried Crowley's Book of the Law (after she destroyed her first copy, of course).
I spent some time contemplating the notes they might write, the places they might leave their books to be found. A few people would run screaming from Anton La Vay's black volume but most would snatch it up & scan its pages in hopes of finding the detailed instructions for lurid or violent rituals. Glen's note would be more sordid than the book itself. Tropic of Cancer... Ah! What a dirty, sad, gorgeous book. What a perfect book to love, to carry, to cherish to dog-eared & stained perfection. Any book in that state is a holy relic. Nate was a member of the first writing group I ever joined. I heard him read his own poetry-- tender, adoring verses. I suspect his note would be a love letter to Henry Miller. The Book of the Law would be a cheap printout or photocopy. The note would be curt. A brief invite into initiation followed by the order to "burn after reading."
Siddhartha... would I release you, the relic in my pocket? Would I open the bird cage & let you fly out? Could I? The waters speak to me but the world drowns out their song. I hold you still-- your words about Love, about Wisdom, about the transitory nature of all things... I underlined them for school & kept them for my Self. Inked up printed pages would not serve another near as well as a new copy. That is what I tell myself but I know better. I must let go of the relic.
When I open the cage, I will wrap you in plain brown paper, then I will write the words, "For You" on the front of your simple covering. I will leave you upon a rock on the beach or riverbank. Perhaps I will leave you by the waterfall in Russian Gulch. There is no ferryman but the water speaks. Whoever finds the book-- speak to them for me.