Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves hover on one busy wall in my home office. Two of these shelves are the “action shelves.” They house the books that get pulled off, referenced, piled around the house, written in, sticky-noted, stuck in my backpack, stuffed with a pencil and sometimes returned. Most of them are second and third copies as I’m compelled to give away books as a congenital habit I inherited from Mom. I was at her mountain house in Highlands, NC recently and in her bedroom she has bookshelves that greet her eyes when she wakes in the morning. She’s a retired college professor who probably shouldn’t have retired. If she woke on the other side of the bed, she’d have a mountain view, but she opts to wake on the side with the books. Looking through her library, I notice that she had two copies of almost a third of her books. “So I can still have a copy when I give one away,” she tells me. I chuckle because I have, in recent years begun buying up copies of  Complications by Atul Gawande, How Doctor’s Think by Jerome Groopman, and Stiff by Mary Roach whenever they show up at local used bookstore. 2 of the 3 of these are currently missing from the action shelves because they are in someone else’s backpack or back at the bookstore for me to scoop up again.




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