I’m talking about books of course, book love.
The way a book finds you just when you didn’t know you needed it.
The way a friend who isn’t known for popping things in the mail sends you a book and you think: oh dear because it’s not your usual kind of book and now what? and you open it and begin reading, just to say you did, and before you know it you’re ‘away with it’ because of course it’s your kind of book, you just didn’t (yet) know it and you’re just a little surprised at how she’s glimpsed a side of you you didn’t realized showed.
The feel of the paper (we all have our favourites).
The art of the cover.
The marginalia!! (either finding it — the joy of second-hand books — or adding your own, which is a whole conversation in itself; I would love to have a book club meeting limited to the book’s marginalia; in fact I’m reminding myself that there is a book circulating right now among five friends, each of us encouraged to add notes before passing it along to the next person; each of us using a different ink so we know who’s who)
The books of our childhood, of our lives, that just by opening to a random page or illustration take us back to some summer afternoon and yellow peddle pushers, cool grass on bare legs, an afternoon of pages, a stack of buttered saltines and solitude and never once feeling alone.
Please note: I will never borrow a book from you, at least it would be very very unlikely, because I’m too familiar and relaxed with books. I bend them backwards and fold down pages, mark them up; I take them into the kitchen where the olive oil and blueberries live and to lunch and on tea breaks with chocolate. I stuff them into beach bags among mustard sandwiches and leaky water bottles and leave them under maple trees at night when it might rain and sometimes it does.
Would I lend you mine? Depends. If it’s one I’ve formed a strong relationship with, probably not. But I would love to buy you your own copy to christen with salsa and jam.
After all this, and in the spirit of book love magic, what do I stumble across this morning but this passage, by Jill Robinson.
“Once in a very rare year, there comes along a new book, and I say, as I am reading, as my eyes eat words without a blink, as my heart and mind grab each other, This, I say, is The Best Book. I know before the first page is gone. I sense it building. And as the book finishes, I go as slow as I can. I don’t want to leave the book’s world.”
And on the same page, my handwritten response:
Treasures that come to us in the arrangement of letters and punctuation. Who knew in grade one that the alphabet we were learning would be everything?