Monday, January 26, 2009

My Life as a Book

I have always loved the metaphor of books as a life well lived. Every day is like a new page, and at critical junctures in our lives we close old chapters to begin new ones. As objects, books are like our bodies - they grow old, weathered, and are eventually destroyed, but their words live on in the hearts of others.

It's no coincidence that Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, the largest bookstore in the world, is also a coveted destination for dearly departed book lovers. Apparently many people have requested to be buried here, and according to Powell's blog, there are ashes beneath the Pearl Room (and I'm sure many others are surreptitiously scattered throughout the store.)

Yet it's the legendary Pillar of Books, a nine foot high column on Powell's northwest entrance, that stands as the ultimate memorial. This impressive column is carved to represent a stack of world classics. But it's actually an elaborate urn - an reader's ashes are interred within. It's hard to pass by this column without reflecting on ones own mortality, which I suppose is the point of any good book.

I hope to see more urns or memorials that make use of books. So far, I've only found this expensive and stoic book urn, but it's a start.

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