Glutton for book books

I’m a glutton for print books during our Canadian half of the year. The other half my husband and I are in Mexico: books are hard to get and I enjoy the ease of an e-reader, but by the time we get back to Canada, I’m ready to go hog wild.

And I know why: because a book book is a 3-D experience.


I just finished Nocturne by Helen Humphreys. Her writing always knocks me out, but this memoir about her brother, his life and death, is extra special.

I sat for a very long moment after I finished it, teary, holding the book, turning it in my hands, running my fingers over the slightly raised type of the title and author’s name. Turning this little volume again and again, taking in the beauty of the cover image, relishing that curtain-down-on-the-last-act fullness. Encore! Encore!

Yes: a book book. There’s nothing quite like it.

Thank you, Helen, for your crystal clear prose, as beautiful as both music and silence.

And thank you, as well, to HarperCollins Canada and editor Phyllis Bruce: it’s clear that you loved this beautiful book.

The smell of a good book

{Photo by Leah Feldon, taken from the roof terrace of our house in Mexico at sunset.}

We’re nearing the end of our half-year stay in San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. I begin to feel the push/pull of leaving one home and returning to another.

There is always the challenging business of clearing the desk — the piles of papers! — and deciding which books go, and which ones remain behind.

The books that go back and forth are research texts. For pleasure while here, I read almost exclusively on my iPad. There is no longer a good bookstore here (alas!), and ordering on-line is expensive. When I return to Canada, one of my first stops will be at a bookstore.

I love digital reading, but I love books even more, love the sensual dimension of holding a book in my hands, turning the pages, gazing at the cover, making notes in the margins. I love, too, picking out the perfect bookmark (I have quite a collection).

This wonderful YouTube TED talk by Chip Kidd on book design brought all that home to me:

Ah, the smell of a book! As an editor, I loved when the printed book arrived: I would always take a deep sniff. (Books and horses are similar that way.)

What do you love about a book? What books have been extra special physically for you?