First, I am sure the burning question in all our minds is what has inspired my sudden return? Last week I was forced to use blogger. As I struggled through blogger’s list of horrible themes and all-too-user-friendly dashboard, I thought to myself, why can’t I use WordPress? The teacher supervising my compulsory use of blogger did not approve of WordPress, it turned out. I realised how much I missed WordPress, and then, how much I missed blogging. I also decided that, out of pride, I would not abandon my blog for a whole 6 months. It has already been 5.96 months (thanks Google). The simple solution was to write a post. And then another, and another. Finally I may achieve the’ posting every third day’ dream. Or at least the ‘never abandon blog for six months’ dream. Here goes.
Books are beautiful.
Nothing displays such obvious symptoms of being loved as a book does. Every book starts life the same; a glossy paperback packed tightly into a shelf in a shop, the same as every other book jammed against it. But as it is read, and loved, it begins to reflect the owner. Some people dog ear the pages, some crack the spines from lying them open and face down. A book of real beauty is not a book with a perfect cover (though that helps) or a book with perfect prose (though that helps too) but a book with curled pages, scuffed edges, dog-eared and with notes scribbled in the margins. The most well-loved books become records of a person, favourite pages marked with a folded corner, a stripe of pen, a piece of paper slipped in between the pages. The words smudged, perhaps, by being cried into, lovingly ran over by the fingers of a reader. After years of re-reading, the book becomes like a diary of sorts, preserving moments in one’s life with the same efficiency as a photograph; a ripped page from when the suspense got too much and a page was turned with too much speed. Ideas scribbled in the margins, favourite passages underlined.
The idea of a book is even more beautiful.
If we look at the idea of reading on a purely physical level, our eyes are effectively processing a series of symbols and converting them into images in our minds, and these images are able to produce emotions and life-changing ideas. But one of the most beautiful things about books is that, though most people will at some point read Harry Potter, no-one reads the same Harry Potter. For some, Harry Potter is merely a good story. For others, it is a paperback copy of their childhood. For others still, it is the one life lesson they will ever need. The same can be said for every book. This is the reason there has never been a book to movie adaption that pleases everyone. When we all read a different book, all picture it differently, all find a different piece of ourselves between it’s pages, it’s hard for someone to translate that on to screen. What’s beautiful about a book is that anyone can write one, anyone can read one, and every book has the simple capacity to change a life. Or provide a good story. Humanities fascination with books, the written word and the spoken story, has endured since the first time someone stood up and saw the world around them, and tried to explain it. That’s the initial reason this whole thing began; everyone was looking for an explanation. Nowadays, in fiction, we aren’t so much looking for an explanation of phenomena like the stars or the seasons, but some of us are still looking for a different kind of explanation. Perhaps you only really find a situation you can relate to, those important pieces of ourselves we find, in a novel. As Markus Zusak said;
‘I guess that’s the beauty of books. When they finish they don’t really finish.’
And that truly is one of the beautiful things about a book. While there are some stories we tear through and then forget about, there are those that linger, whose effects endure for months, for years, for a life time. All of this sold in a paperback copy.
Books really are beautiful.
As you may have noticed, this post was headed up with a sneaky ‘Part One’ in parenthesis. This is because I couldn’t manage to get all of my thoughts on this topic, which takes up far too much of my time, down on paper in one go. I intend to start a mini series entitled, “The Beauty of Books” to create a truly comprehensive collection of my thoughts on the matter.
P.S. I don’t own the image in the header and I couldn’t find the original source. If it happens to be yours, please tell me and I will give you full credit!