Paper, Glue and String

8 05 2009

One of the simplest pleasures for me as an avid reader and a lover of the written word is a book.

Books represent all that is important for me in the world. The ability to capture one’s thoughts and creations in such a tangible way is an amazing process, to edit, revise, to erase the entire work is a wonder in the eyes of an aspiring proofreader, editor and writer. I have come to think of books as that which is good and strong and enduring in my world…their knowledge is continually available, whether in the form of a book in my hand or in the form of words imprinted on my mind.

As a child, books were my closest and truest friends. They were the things that brought me joy, took me away from the pain and rejection of childhood and adolescence and gave me an identity: a reader. Books were my friends because they helped me escape the inane existence that I belonged to as a child that was not allowed to make decisions for herself. The choices I made with books were some of the most liberating experiences for me because I chose the books I read, I lingered over especially moving passages, I fingered the pages lovingly, turning them tenderly as I moved through the wonders that the covers contained. Those books led me to who I am today because they shaped me, gave me a love of the written word and allowed me to learn about things I would have been ignorant of without them.

The tactile pleasures of holding a book are sublime. Standing in the middle of a room full of books is like being surrounded by the writers, charactes, people who have read those books and touched those pages…all of their essences wafting from the aged pages, the worn spines, the crumbling dust covers. I adore libraries, bookstores, any room with bookshelves or piles of books. Those rooms feel like home to me…my own room has three bookcases stuffed full of books and teetering piles of books on the floor, the tables, the nightstands, and spread across the bedspread. My boyfriend is constantly reminding me that even though I find sleeping with books comforting, he does not enjoy rolling over in bed to be stabbed in the side and back by a sharp-cornered volume.

My love of books is so intense that I always have a book in my purse…for those unexpected moments where nothing is happening and I can sneak in a few moments with my book. When I walk around my apartment, I am forever carrying books and leaving them places, setting them down and picking them up.

I always read more than one book at a time and often go on subject binges, where I hook onto a style of writing, an author, a subject of book and then read everything I can get my hands on. Favorites are: memoirs, foodie books, books/memoirs/personal accounts of mountain climbing (esp. Everest, Eiger, K2, 7Summits) and deep sea cave diving or any kind of cave diving.

Some of the most intense moments I have had with books are related to the senses rather than just the plot of the book:

The weight and heft of a volume in your hand when you pick it up.

The feel of its smooth hard cover, bound in paper, or even better, cloth.

The feel of its pages, whether worn smooth and almost cloth-like with use and age, or crisp and unread in new books…those pages are redolent with the smells of reading.

The knowledge that someone crafted each word with the single intention of sharing it with the world, to be read, savored and pondered.

But the best thing about books is the smell: paper, glue and string for old books and simply paper and adhesive for newer ones.

Paper, glue and string bound between the covers of a books that holds the power to sweep you away to a place where you can escape, learn, be challenged, find salvation, find relief, find joy, love and a multitude of emotions that are only found in books.




3 responses

8 05 2009

Hi there,

I see you’ve started a blog about books. I have recently done the same. I’m a book designer, and my blog is It’s mostly design oriented, but I couldn’t agree with you more about how wonderful it is to hold a book in your hands. I’ve never delved into physically binding books, but I think it’d be great to do so someday.

25 03 2010
Hangry Pants

You should read On a Lobster Placemat. Rose is in grad school and she writes and makes books.

25 03 2010

Thank you! I will definitely check her blog out! Love the name of it!

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