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The Love of Books


I love books. That's the only way to describe my feelings about the experience of having, holding, and reading an actual, physical book.

I love an old hardback with an embossed leather cover. You can feel the thought and care that went into the creation of a work of art which contains another work of art.

I love a hardback with a dustjacket, and when you remove the dustjacket you discover how the title and author's name are printed along the spine, and realize that somebody somewhere chose those particular colors and fonts, and you wonder why.

I love deckle edges. They're cool.

I love the feel of Penguin trade paperbacks. They have a heft to them, with a floppiness yet a reliable strength in the binding which you know will endure over time.

I love the challenge of reading a thick mass-market paperback without cracking the spine.

I love older books with marbled paper at the endpapers, because, why not?

I love fonts. It's often difficult to distinguish between different fonts in novels, but they are indeed unique, and often contribute in some ultra-sensory way to your experience of the book.

I love discovering the choice that the author or editor or publisher made regarding "scene breaks" -- usually the three asterisks that separate an intra-chapter scene from the next. Sometimes it's the asterisks, other times it's tiny floral symbols. There is apparently no fast rule. (I've also learned that there are other terms for the "scene break," one being asterism, another being dinkus. I think I'll go with dinkus because it makes me smile.)

I love typos and misprints. Really. Because if I can spot the mistakes that any number of editors missed, what exactly made that particular misspelling so elusive? And why is no one paying me to be an editor?

I love chapter titles. Not that I'm against the simple chapter number, but a title makes me feel as though the author put a little extra something into it. Even more, I love the Dickensian-style chapter heading which vaguely summarizes what is to come, such as this from chapter 26 of Oliver Twist:

"In which a mysterious character appears upon the scene; and many things, inseparable from this history, are done and performed."

I love the last page of a book. You turn a page one last time, seeing that the story will be concluding in just a few paragraphs, and you feel that anticipation and hope that the ending will be satisfying or surprising or unexpected, that this entire experience has not been a waste.

And I love the way these books look on a shelf, lined up straight and proud, each an individual filled with complete lives and stories and histories and hopes, waiting patiently for you to return to them, whenever you so please.

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