I think the best thing one can do with a book once one is finished with it is set it free. Give it to a friend, a colleague, a stranger, or just lose it somewhere on purpose. I practice this freedom philosophy with all my books because it expands my library infinitesimally. I no longer own the books sure, instead they belong to the world, and as opposed to keeping them caged, like Maya Angelou’s birds they would still sing for certain but to a smaller audience, and they would be lonely.

I give these books (only the best) to people whom I may never see again, but on the off-chance I do, there in their libraries, or a library of a friend of theirs, I will see something I delved into for a while, something that changed my life enough for me to pass it on and I will be giddy, literally giddy with joy. It becomes more than a book, it becomes a talisman, or a symbol of something larger, a bookmark with an image of my past, an analogy of my thoughts in a given moment, at a given time.

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I gave the book ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues‘ by Tom Robbins to my cousin, like, half a year ago, immediately after I read it. I was so bowled over I thought it was immediately imperative that someone else share in the magic that is his prose. I found it again this Sunday and have been buried inside its pages since then.

The book is about a girl, Sissy, who is born with extra large thumbs and (obviously) decides to spend her life hitchhiking. Not as a hobby, or on holidays but literally she doesn’t get a degree, doesn’t go to university she hitchhikes. And she meets some very cool people along the way, including a Countess who makes interesting perfumes, a Japanese shaman living in a cave called the Chink, and a farm full of Cow Girls.

This quote comes from a psychiatrist intern she sees because her husband (there’s an interesting story of how and why she gets married) thinks she has some issues she can work through with therapy. The psychiatrist Dr Robbins (in a book by Tom Robbins) ends up being quite… well you can tell from the quote.

I should say spoiler alert but it’s not possible to spoil this book… Really.


“Transcendence you say. What a pompous word! The very idea of transcending something smacks of hierarchy and class consciousness; the notion of ‘upward mobility’ with which this country attracts greedy immigrants and chastises its poor. Jesus Goldman! The trick is not to transcend things but to transform them. Not to degrade them or deny them – and that’s what transcendence amounts to – but to reveal them more fully, to heighten their reality, to search for their latent significance. I fail to detect a single healthy impulse in the cowardly attempt to transcend the physical world. On the other hand, to transform a physical entity by changing the climate around it through the manner in which one regards it is a marvelous undertaking, marvelous and courageous. And that’s what Sissy has done since childhood. By erasing accepted standards of perception, she transformed her thumbs while affirming them. In her affirmation of them, she intensified the vividness and richness of associations they might arouse. To paraphrase a remark she made to me, she introduced them to poetry. I would think that Sissy is an example for every afflicted person, which is to say, Doctor, she is an example for each of us.”

I hope you run across Even Cowgirls Get The Blues sometime in your life. I hope after it has changed you that you share it with someone else, who shares it with someone else. Like joy, or music, or any of life’s favourite things.

Or maybe you’ll find my copy. On the first page I wrote “to transform a physical entity by changing the climate around it through the manner in which one regards it is a marvelous undertaking, marvelous and courageous.”