Reading has certainly been a gift to me; it has been a way to escape, to explore, to learn and to be inspired. Along this path I have picked up some ideas and habits that may seem terribly preposterous to some but to some it all makes perfect sense. So, let us explore this bibliophile mind of mine.
A book is its own entity; it contains so much life and death, adventure and melancholy, fun and horror. The possibilities of their innards are rather extraordinary. From the moment it is bought it is passed along a line of people, all have discussed, thought, dreamed, cried, shouted whilst holding it in their hands. Second-hand books are like paper orphans waiting to be loved again and again by strangers. So what is it in one’s DNA that denies buying such beautiful objects? I have known people that won’t buy them; they need freshly printed books for their collection because second-hand books are simply dirty and used. A strong discussion was had but I was none the wiser and quite perplexed by it all. I left the room rather quickly with quite the headache.
Bookmarks and dog-eared pages
I have utilised till receipts, postcards, sticky notes, scrap paper, greeting cards, gift tags, a feather, a tarot card and even a leaf in desperation. I have always searched for something to mark my place as after a rather sharp tongued English teacher shouted at me for folding over the corner of the page (a habit I obtained from my Mother), bookmarks, no matter what they are – need to be used. I do however love shopping for bookmarks although it has to be said they seem to be rather sparse these days. I received some lovely damask patterned bookmarks many years ago and I make sure I never mistreat them. Folding over pages, now that has become an argument inside myself for example, if I am reading and I am on the train, I need to get up and out sharply but without a bookmark, what do I do? I do not want to crease the page so I have kept it in hand with my finger wedged between chapters, holding onto it for dear life. That English teacher scarred me for life but she taught me a fabulous lesson.
Going shopping for books, for me, is the equivalent of being in heaven. As soon as I step into the second-hand shops, I breathe in that smell of paper of which sometimes is intermingled with brewing tea or coffee, I look up at the stacks of books, the people quietly moving around reading introductions and fondling covers, the carpet worn from bookworms – it is a fabulous place to be. In my mind there is a certain way to shop. Firstly I look for any editions I don’t have from my favourite authors and then once that has been satisfied, I look around for new books, new authors or buy the books that I don’t have and I desperately require. I can spend hours in there whilst whoever is in tow is itching to get out but I love to walk along a row of bookshops that present themselves on Charing Cross in London for example, each bookshop is a treasure trove for me and I am lost to it all.
That amazing smell that hits your nostrils when you walk into a bookshop, when you open up that book for the first time and your nose dives straight in with no care of who may have witnessed this – I could bottle it and wear it every day as a reminder of my love for the beautifully bound wonder that is the book. This smell however, has been explained and I have included the information here for reference, a study of the smell of paper by Compound Interest. It’s interesting reading but I like to think the smell is an intermingled smell of love for the book that was born of the writer and has become a perfume added by each reader as the book has been passed along. Oh the poet in me…
Slow collecting of dead writers work
A lot of writers I admire have sadly passed and their work is limited. Some readers may decide to buy up all the work and overindulge in it one weekend becoming drunk on words but for me, I cannot get too drunk too quickly, I need to pace myself, why you ask? I have a fear that one day I will run out of books/magazine articles/zines to buy, I fear I will be left with a complete library having read everything, I want to savour the beauty of the words, I want to be drip fed every single word, every feeling, texture and emotion – I don’t want to drown in my library.
So there you have it, some funny little habits I have picked since I started reading. I would be interested in your thoughts and any habits you may have picked up along the way no matter how weird or wonderful they may be.