Jonas is shocked by the presence of so many books in the Receiver’s dwelling.
Jonas’s community has rule books and instruction books, and that is it. There are no books of stories or history. The community embraces Sameness, which seems to necessitate that no one knows what came before. The only person who knows is the Receiver of Memory, because he holds the community’s memories going back generations.
When Jonas is selected to be the Receiver of Memory, he really has no idea what he is getting into. He has no idea what to expect when he arrives at the Receiver of Memory’s dwelling. There is an attendant outside, and the dwelling itself is removed from the others.
Inside, Jonas notices that the furniture is different from most dwellings. It is a little more luxurious. He also notices that there are way more books than he has ever seen in one place.
But this room's walls were completely covered by bookcases, filled, which reached to the ceiling. There must have been hundreds--perhaps thousands--of books, their titles embossed in shiny letters. (Ch. 10)
Jonas can’t even imagine what is in all those books. Everyone has a Book of Rules and Jonas has schoolbooks, but he doesn't think that all of these thousands of books contain instructions. He is baffled by them, and they are his first window into the fact that the Receiver of Memory has special privileges in the community and knows much more than anyone else. The books are symbolic of that special knowledge.
Jonas later learns that the books contain “the knowledge of centuries.” They are also forbidden to everyone but the Receiver of Memory.
Your living arrangements will have to be different from those of most family units, because the books are forbidden to citizens. You and I are the only ones with access to the books." (Ch. 13)
The Receiver of Memory keeps himself (or herself) apart from everyone else in the community. It is almost impossible to have a regular family, because the Receiver’s work is private. How could the Receiver share a dwelling when no one else can have access to books or memories? The community respects the Receiver’s opinion and asks for it when wisdom and advice are needed, but most of the time the Receiver sticks to him or herself.
Receiver of Memory is a lonely job not just because of the living arrangements and other citizens' wariness. The Receiver has an understanding that no one else in the community possesses. As Jonas continues his training, he is often frustrated by this fact. He alone knows about the past, experiences emotions, and thinks clearly. It is a lonely position to be in.