Dan loves fancy looking books. He has visions of a personal study, lined with bookcases filled with classic tomes, proper bricks in beautiful covers. He’s always lusting after beautiful books, but funnily enough he isn’t much of an avid reader. I’m not saying he’s not well read, he is, and he does read, but he doesn’t love reading as much as he loves books.
I find this fascinating.
I, too, go a bit loopy in a well stocked bookshops (i.e. The English Bookshop in Uppsala, it makes me drool). Seeing all the lovely books I just want to own them, possess them. But then, if I do buy a pretty, heavy and spectacular book, I am way to worried about its prettiness to actually feel comfortable reading it. You know, that thing that books actually are for. These books, then, are more of a decoration, something to look at rather than to read, and as much as they mesmerise me I do love to read.
I’ve had my kindle for a while now. I’ve heard people speak of them with derision, and expressing a fear that actual, lovely books will disappear. I do not share this fear. I don’t think creatures as sentimental as humans are going to let such a culturally significant thing as the book disappear. I do not approve of the derision either. Surely the magic of books are not their shape, but their content? Their ability to, through text, words, transport people anywhere? To present to us accounts of parts of the world we’ve never experienced, or alternate realities, completely divorced from what anyone has ever experienced? What is important is the actual words, the story, the content. I do not care how I consume them. All I want is that their shape is not so pretty it discourages me from handling it.
Pretty books are amazing. They can be left in a bookcase, displayed as art and a testimony of your personal taste, and I like that. I find it a beautiful way of decorating a home. And I think it is completely possible to appreciate them while still absolutely adoring the convenience of consuming literature through an e-reader. You do not have to choose. You can have both. And I definitely intend to, personally.
(So yeah, I just acquired some new books for my kindle. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. I intend to buy some poetry by Plath when I’m back in Sweden, but I want that in the form of an actual, physical book. Because I just feel like it.)