Thursday, January 29, 2009

Books are special

Thou art alive still, while thy booke doth live, and we have wits to read, and praise to give.
Shakespeare and Company, Paris ©Ingrid Booz Morejohn

Books are special, I can't live without them. Yesterday I mentioned how I never leave home without my camera, well that goes for a book too, I always carry something to read. You could say that books rule my life. I'm surrounded by books at home and in my workspace, piles and piles of them clutter the floor, bookshelves and book shelves take up wall space in every room (even the kitchen and bathroom). I read all the time and can't fall asleep at night if I haven't read at least one or two lines. I also like to possess books, they make me feel secure, they're my friends, my family. I have a hard time getting rid of books, you don't get rid of family do you? When we moved once friends helping us transport our several thousand strong library commented acidly "can't you borrow these at the library?"

A wall of books is a vision of beauty and comfort to me. The first piece of furniture I ever bought was a bookcase (I slept on a mattress on the floor). We own about 30 IKEA Billy bookcases and bookshelves, as you know, are a science. They have to be able to support a huge weight without sagging. (I can't stand shelves that look like the back of a Vietnamese Sway-back pig.) Billy fits the bill (!), they're both affordable and sturdy if bought in the narrow width. One of my early boyfriends felt very threatened by my bookshelves. Books to him were a bourgeois showcase of intellectual snobbery and he went on to threaten unconditionally that "if we ever live together we're not going to have any bookcases in the living room". Another boyfriend wouldn't let me read in bed. I'm married to neither of them.
When I was a child my biggest dream was to work with books, books in any way. I saw myself working in a library or a bookstore and if asked where I'd like to go on an outing it was usually either the library or the bookstore. A visit would make me so excited that a trip to the store loo was the first thing on the agenda before I could calm myself down to actually touch a book.

Books smell good, even musty old paperbacks found at the Salvation Army or in a vacation house. I often buy books by the armful, and love the scent of printer's ink, the gentle breeze of pages fanned in my face, the secure knowledge that that hard lump in my bag on a lonely trip is a sure friend, a new book to read. When I hear that precious libraries of rare books have been destroyed in war times it grieves me almost as much as the human losses. 

That I eventually got to work in publishing was a dream come true. My first job made me happy beyond words, surrounded by friends and colleagues that loved it every bit as much as I did. We didn't just love the word or the image, we could discuss all facets of publishing, going on about typefaces and fonts for hours, the pros and cons of different kinds and weights of paper, even what our book spines would look like on the shelf. 

Finally I became a published author myself. Coming upon my very own book in a bookshop window was a childish "sweetness" that I'll never forget. 

... on the other hand there seem to be far too many lame duck books in this world. Who was it who said "If you want to write a book, don't "?

No comments:

Post a Comment