I love books. (I know, you are all thinking, "Tell us something we don't know!") Only fellow book lovers can understand, though, that sometimes it's more than the words in the pages, or even the pictures on the cover. Sometimes it's the texture of the paper, the way the edges of the pages are cut, or the weight of the cover as much as the thoughts printed thereon. Some of my favourite recollections of books include their physical presence; for instance, the paperback edition of Our Uncle Charlie by Elizabeth Lane, with the glossy coating peeling off the bent corners and the crease down the centre where I'd rolled it up to carry around in my bag, evokes almost as many happy thoughts as the stories of the Murphy Boys and the fire in the shed and the barefoot kids crawling all over the gig as the family drove to church on Sunday. Or the inscription on the yellowed pages inside our blue buckram-covered copy of Three Little Maids by Ethel Turner that reminded me that my mother had once been a little girl excitedly reading the tale of Phyllida and Weenie. Or there is the tattered paperback edition of The Adventures of Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley with illustrations that had been carefully hand-coloured by my artistic older cousins, using one of those little tins with the square cakes of watercolour paint. More recently, the Dude has discovered a series of teen boy adventure books that come with stiff cloth covers, an elastic band to hold them closed, and several gatefold inserts with maps and pictures and other clues to the mystery on them.
I know I am not alone in this love of books and reading, as evidenced by the existence of the booklover's magazine, Slightly Foxed. A free issue is available online for your perusal. Check out the article "Nuffin Like a Puffin" for a beautiful insight into the development of reading habits in childhood. I want to subscribe, but I'm afraid I'd spend too long reading the magazine about reading and not enough time reading the books!
Anyway, now I'm off to tackle Ulysses again, and it's a brick of a book with pages that feel like newsprint, reminiscent of the paper that wraps the soap in Leopold Bloom's pocket.