Currently enjoying the near-30 degree weather here in Maui. I know y’all hate me. Curb your rage for a moment.
I struggled for a while about what I wanted to write about this week; it’s funny, but I feel so removed from “normal life” that I have a hard time dipping back into it, dragging the cesspool of popular culture for something current and witty. The most normal thing I’ve done this week is check Facebook and play an MMO.
I guess I can briefly mention how annoyed I am that bullying in schools only becomes a public/press issue when someone dies. Full stop.
But I’d really like to talk about how awesome books are. As in, completely, totally, super-awesomely RAD. I’ve been reading a rather lengthy anthology of all the short stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe for the past few months and after so long, you start to get rather affectionate about not only your black-bound, 5-pound, anvil of a book, but also about books in general. And here are just a few reasons why:
- The smell
I have a problem when it comes to library. As in, something near-pathological. Whenever I find myself in a library (usually once every 10 years or so), I feel this irresistible urge to find the oldest book in the building. And smell it. Also to read it. But mostly to put my nose between those sweetly aromatic pages and take a big ole whiff. Because there’s something about the smell of an old book… sure, it smells rather musty and dry, but there’s something magical about being able to sample a book like you sample a good Cabernet Sauvignon – nose first. It’s almost as if you can magically transport yourself to the time the book was written, just by immersing yourself in the aged must between the pages. It sounds weird, I realize. But remember that our sense of smell is the sense most strongly linked to memory…
- The sound
There’s honestly few things more satisfying than the sound of a heavy, hardcover book coming down on a hard surface with a thick “CLOOPH.” Except maybe tossing an apple from one hand to another. (Seriously, try it. Cure for all ills.) It’s one of life’s little joys, just picking up a big book and setting it down again. Not only that, but the sound and the sensation of riffling through the pages (especially old, yellowing ones) sends a chill up the back of my neck. It’s as if the book is gently whistling, teasing you about the story within.
- The reading
One of the points of pride I have in my huge Poe collection is being able to point out exactly how far I’ve come. I proudly insert my treble clef bookmark after every reading marathon and check the top to see the massive number of pages I’ve put behind me. I also love the fonts – every book is different, with a different tone and a different style. After reading so many, I’ve started to pick up on which font sizes and styles I associate with good writing. Funny enough, most of my favourite books have had tiny print – Les Miserables (unabridged – yeah, I went for it) had 2 columns of squint-worthy text per page! Maybe it’s a reflection of how I like longer books. I do tend to devour them rather quickly. Anyway.
But the best thing about books is turning the page. On one side is the two pages you’ve just conquered, on the next, something (hopefully) unexpected and beautiful. Every turn reveals something about the plot or the characters or the theme, and you unravel a book mystery by mystery. There’s something about just reading a book that reflects the pattern of life – a new day, a new turn of the page. You might be able to predict what the next chapter holds, but the Author has a way of throwing twists and turns in your way, even the occasional deus ex machina.
And that, my friends, is why I may look ridiculous toting my 800-page Poe to the pool, but you’ll never catch me with one of those damn Kindles.