A child’s first best friend isn’t their parent or sibling or even their dog. The hard truth is that a child’s first holder of secrets and wishing buddy is, and always will be, their favorite stuffed animal.

Since I am now an old geezer who officially has a two-year-old nephew zipping around the house in search of something to constantly destroy, I figured that it was about time that I cleansed myself of the big bag in my closet. AKA my stuffed animals. It was only right, after all, that somebody get some use out of them since they’d clearly been left ignored for so long.

Whilst pouring over all of my favorite stuffed animals that now smelled like and odd combination of mildew and dust, memories washed over me like a tidal wave. Everything from throwing them out a two story window to playing school in my bedroom to curling up with them as I read a good book – images swamped my mind left and right.

And then I found Peaches.

Aw, Peaches. She was truly my first confidant. I told her everything. We played, we danced, we cried, we even packed up my Care Bear suitcase and ran away from home together. (No worries, we only made it to the end of the driveway before my dad was hollering for us out the window). But the simple truth is, Peaches was the first pal to go with me on all of my grand adventures. Just looking at her tells its own tale.

She’s got bald spots, stains, missing strings, a crooked beak, a worn bowtie, and the whole enchilada. Let’s face it, this girl has seen some trying times in the arms of her adoring owner. Yet, in all of that time, Peaches was always more beautiful to me than any other stuffed animal – even my new ones with pretty rhinestones or those with wicked lyrical qualities.

The point is that I loved Peaches regardless of her less-than-stellar appearance. And even now, amidst the mildew and dust, it was Peaches that I picked up and held close, taking a big whiff of as I rubbed the bald spot on the top of her dome-shaped head. I had missed her and, while to others she may appear old and quite possibly stinky, to me she was and always will be one of my greatest treasures.

So why should books be any different?

To me, a good book is the one that’s sitting on the shelf with a broken spine, coffee stained pages, and even a few highlights or written words spread out here or there. Who cares if you get the cover dirty or if, heaven forbid, you dog-ear a page – a book was meant to be worn. To be treasured. To be loved.

Looking at my bookcase, it’s obvious which books I’ve read and reread and re-reread over and over again, because they’re the ones falling apart. They’re the ones with character and a certain survivorness about them. Yeah, there’s moments with every new book where you realize you put the first jelly stain on it or mayhap even accidentally squished a bug whose guts just refuse to get off the back panel – oh well.

To put it bluntly, I want my book to reflect the stories inside of them. I want them to look like they’ve been on a well-lived adventure because, in all honesty, they have been. I don’t care if I have to tape up the spine or dog-ear a dog-ear because it’s so worn it’s about to fall off. To me, each book comes with a life expectancy and it’s cruel of the reader not to hit a few of the goals on its bucket list before true boredom sets in (you know, when they get stowed away in a museum or put forever to bed in archives).

If you don’t agree, that’s on you. But Peaches totally has my back on this one.

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