Books should be Anchovies, Olives, and Miso

10Nov06

Read a book tonight for work, actually a novella, and for discretion’s sake I won’t blog about it. Instead you get some thoughts on reading, and the next on my bookshelf. Click the “On Reading” tag in the sidebar if you want to see what else is on my shelf.

I like old books. I’m not talking about the publication date, but about when the copy in my hands was printed, and how many hands have held it before mine. I like the idea that a book has had a life before it came to me. I also like to give books away, send them off into the world like Noah’s doves to find a home, or maybe not. I love the heaviness of older paper, and the peculiar sizes you sometimes find.

But I won’t read a book that smells funny or that has brittle pages. I’ve tried for years–nay, decades–to read a copy of A Canticle for Leibowitz that’s been on the bookshelves in my family’s house for as long as I can remember. But there’s something offensive to me about the way the pages have aged that makes me not want to spend time with them. Reading is a sensual act, for more than just the eyes. Though not really for the ears, or the tongue, come to think of it. But nose and fingers, sure. If reading has a taste, then I’m always searching for umami, the sense of richness and deliciousness recently discovered by foodies. The book I’m reading now & will blog about tomorrow or Saturday is purely salty–I’ll keep reading, but it won’t satisfy.

Next on the shelf:

A sentimental favorite: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s a first edition, signed not once but twice by the author. The story of a high school freshman with a terrible secret, Speak is the best YA book I have ever read, bar none. (I hear the movie’s pretty good, too.) I’m linking to Laurie’s LiveJournal in the sidebar, which is filled with great insights into writing and life. Read Speak–it’s a great book, and not just for teens.

Book:
Speak

DVD:
Speak

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