On Books (Discovery for 8/18/09)
I love books. I love reading them, but there is even more than that.
Touch. I love how cool the pages are when you first open them in the mornings. Or how warm the pages are if you’ve left it out in the car for awhile in the summer, like something baked the exact right length of time. The endpapers and the spine and the little letters that are sometimes imbedded in the cloth, a kind of Braille for book-lovers.
Smell. The new ones: people talk about a new-car scent all the time, but what I love even more is a new-book scent. They should make little deodorizers of that aroma to go under one’s car seats. And the old ones: they smell like history, and rain, and the skin of all the people who loved them before, and every room wherein they lived.
See. Yes, of course we see them when we read them, but I love seeing them on the bookshelves, too. Or lying about, covering every available surface, stacked on the stairs, on the nightstand, on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counter, on my desk, a haphazard pile beside my desk. I once had a guest room whose walls were completely lined with bookshelves full of my favorite books. My guests all said that they had the best sleep there, and inquired about the mattress. I told them it was the books. Now my dining room table is surrounded on three sides by bookshelves. They make any meal better by their very presence. They are the best décor, and multi-purpose at that.
Hear. Taste. I could go on with the other two senses, but that’s a whole different ballgame (because if you’re a true reader you can hear the stories even long after you’ve finished the book; and sometimes you can taste the tang of the ink, even if you don’t try), and besides, the touching, smelling, and seeing are enough. Books are enough to sustain us, period.