As a passionate reader you can’t imagine a world without books or even longer periods without reading a book. Strangely enough I still remember the time when I wasn’t able to read but was fascinated by that black lines and dots in books my brother read – and wondered why none of those lines looked the same. Soon enough those signs became letters and words and I discovered new worlds and stories with every new book (more about this in that blog entry – in German).
So “The Secret Life of Books” begged for being bought and taken back home when I stumbled upon it at Waterstones Piccadilly (So much to the “Don’t judge books by their covers” thingy) claiming it to be a “treasure trove for book lovers”.
“Books are part of how we understand ourselves. They shape our identities, even before we can read them.”
Tom Mole explains why books have been with us for centuries, why we collect them (and spend a considerable amount of money on them if we can afford them), why we love them (and read them till they loose shape) and why they vanish while we reading them and pop up again when we stop reading. Books are treated in different ways, they are flooding shelves, tables, attics or cellars and they are always telling something about their owners – even books which are not there. Books are bringing people together when a group of readers meet to talk about a book they have read. Books are recommended by friends, papers or blogs (even a tiny little one like this), are lend, bought, sold and given away to make room for new ones. And even with new and different technical possibilities like tablets or e-readers, the printed book we can smell, touch, scribble notes in between lines, will still stay with us for quite a while.
“Books in the shelves are sandbags stacked against the floodwaters of forgetting.”
“The Secret Life of Books” is a thrilling story, brilliantly written and will still be fascinating on a second or third reading.
Tom Mole: The Secret Life of Books, Elliott & Thompson, £14.