Yesterday on my walk home I stumbled upon a huge pile of books that were thrown carelessly onto the curb in front of a large apartment complex. There were a few people rummaging through the near-500 book collection that stood before me. Considering the mound of “trash” was far enough away from the actual pile of trash bags, and considering I noticed Hemingway and Proust at first glance, I decided to devote some time into rummaging through these books with my neighbors. It turned out that an old man had passed away in his apartment and the building porter dumped all of his books outside next to the trash. The owner of these books must have been an extremely intellectual man–one of the most impressive, diverse collections I’ve ever seen. Not only were there a plethora of the classics–from novels to encyclopedias to exposes by philosophical thinkers–but there were also many books in French, German, and Hebrew.
I picked up a lovely French book titled La Chartreuse de Parme.Written in 1893 by Stendhal, the novel is fairly easy-to-read and a great way for me to practice my French reading comprehension (I leave for Paris in a little over a week!). I always try to get my hands on French books so long as they were originally written in the language. This rule of thumb should be applied to any book, by the way. As my English Professor in high-school once said, a text should only be read, if possible, in the original language that it was written it. Translations are never completely accurate and the essence and flow of the text will be sacrificed. I definitely noticed the difference from reading L’Etranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus in French after having read it in English. Enough of my semi-pretentious rant… point is, books are treasures even if they are found in the trash.