Some people enjoy communicating with others through music, with mixtapes and copied CDs. I've always been fond of loaning out my books, ones that I've just read or that I read a while back and have stuck with me. Books have such a high density of ideas that it feels good to give someone else the chance to appreciate all of them, especially if you know the person well enough to know they'll be enlightened by the contents as much as you were.

Besides, books were made to be shared. They take a while to read, and quickly become boring if re-read in too short a time, so when you're finished with one there's no problem with letting it disappear for a couple of months. Ideas from the books could probably be communicated by talking, but would be clearer and truer to the author's intent if the person you wanted to talk to about them just read the book. Books are the perfect medium for opening somebody's eyes, be-it to insightful ideas, beautiful images, or just plain wicked writing. And opening your friends' eyes -- changing their perceptions, giving their imaginations new toys to play with -- is what it's all about, right?

Right now I can think of three books I have on loan to people, and two or three people who I have books for but haven't had a chance to give yet. I really know I've succeeded in communicating something important when the book spreads virally through people they know like it did from me. I gave my girlfriend a copy of Ender's Game -- which everyone needs to read, actually -- and it eventually ended up being read by her mother, her brother, and his girlfriend :-)

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