Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book love

I was upstairs at my library shelving today when I was hit by the sudden, strange realization: I love books.

I forgive you for thinking "Well, obviously", but I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about the complicated reading, novel, storytelling, writing part of books, the center of books. For too long I have confused that love, particular and exacting, mercurial, discerning and eccentric, with my love of the book, the physical object, the rectangular thing seeking to engage my attention. It is these self selling packages of seductive promises that I almost unreservedly love. These unabashed siren calls to other worlds that fascinate me. I love their barely suggesting titles, their expressive fonts, and the color of the spine. I love the author photograph, the synopsis I wish would tell the whole story, the glowing quotes, and the picture worth a thousand words cover. I love the blocky heft and the riffleability, the moody color schemes, and the author's life summed up into four sentences. I love the publishing information page, the end papers, the introductory quote, the numbers of the pages, the prize announcements, the publisher's symbol, the wily subtitle, the discreet price, and the references to bestsellerdom. It's all such a feast! A feast of promise and information and expectation and illusion. Or it's like a present, there in its little box that's not a box, never entirely giving itself away but full of a thousand fascinating hints.

Though I am an open-minded and voracious reader you could convince me to try reading only a paltry percentage of all the books there are. And of those that I might agree to peruse at your excellent suggestion, I would, in the end, only fully read through a quite small selection.

But put a book in my hands, any book ever, of any genre or make or year or condition, and ask me to look it over?

With pleasure. Indeed, you needn't even ask.


  1. I understand completely. I have a Kindle, but I almost never use it. It just isn't the same. Yet, I have 9 cases full of books and lots of overflow. My mom does her annual AAUW used book sale plea, "Is this the year you will go through and weed out your collection? Most of those you will never read again?" I pick out a few truly horrible, "what was I thinking when I bought this?" editions to appease her and send her packing. In fact, the built in bookshelves in my family room are why I bought this house. (Of course, when I first toured the house before buying it there weren't actually any BOOKS on them,)

    That's what really scares me. There are homes, right here in my somewhat above average income suburb, without ANY BOOKS in them. How can people live like that?

    1. I don't know. I don't know how anyone lives the way they do. Completely baffling! But I will admit, I only have occasional flares of needing to possess books, it's more the drug addict fevered attention to books no matter where I encounter them.


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