The value of a book

This week, I have been thinking a lot about books. It started last week when I was debating whether to take a Machzor (High Holiday prayer-book ) that was given to me by a college boyfriend more than 20 years ago with us to synagogue. For years, I have taken that book with me each year and enjoyed following the annual service in my own prayer-book. The past few years though it’s gotten more difficult to follow along, the new synagogue we belong to doesn’t use this same prayer book which means I am constantly trying to find the page in my own book. I have loved using that book each year, it’s like visiting with an old friend during this holiday season. I keeping different notes and information I have collected over the years about the holidays in the book and each year it’s fun to reread those as well.

Over the weekend, I got an email from a friend that my 1,000 Mitzvahs book was already shipping even though it wasn’t originally expected until later in the month. I got a lump in my throat when I started realizing that my book will soon end up in the hands of all those folks who’ve pre-ordered, and they are actually going to pick it up and read it. It’s no longer just something I have been working on at my computer sitting in the privacy of my living room for the better part of two years – it’s kind of scary but also really, really exciting.

That started me thinking about the first mitzvah I did which was to give a friend a book. People often asked me about my first mitzvah and if I originally started with big ideas for what I would count as a mitzvah and then realized that might be too difficult, but the truth is the mitzvahs themselves have always been and continue to be small actions like giving a friend a book I thought she might enjoy.

So my mitzvah idea for this week is to do something bookish.

* Gift a meaningful book to a friend.

*  Clean out some fiction books you might no longer want. If you have a store like Powell’s that buys them back – donate the money to a charity of your choice.

* If you have children’s books to donate find a children’s book bank in your city.

* Spend a few minutes commenting on an author’s website or review page.

* Sign up for a volunteer reading program. Read to your own children or grandchildren.

Books are powerful. Buy them. Read them. Share them.

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