Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book lovers !

I have recently discovered that I am a carnal lover of the books as opposed to a courtly lover. ( I came across this term in Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris - a wonderful book on books .)

Why carnal - because I tend to fold  the pages of the books I read . Also , I often keep my books open ,face down , on the bed or the table….

Courtly lovers always use bookmarks , never write in the books ,never underline them….

Ms.Fadiman calls the process of using a bookmark ‘ stopping the reading ‘ while the process of keeping the book spread eagled ‘ only a pause - will come to you in a moment kind ‘

Yes , I always mean to come back to the book soon , after finishing all the other not -so-important chores….

I used to feel guilty about it. My dog-eared , sometimes underlined books ! They were undoubtedly mine , I had put a mark on the pages….and after reading Ex Libris I feel, there are more people like me ....

But I couldn’t bring myself to write in the margins ….not that I didn’t want to , I find the process of writing your impressions , opinions about the writing fascinating !

I like reading such scribblings . Sometimes I find  scribbling in the library books. It is like having a conversation with a like minded person….we read the same books . “Did you like it ? Why did you think she did that ? I loved the way author gently inserted such and such event , and did you love so and so line in the book ? It really touched me….”

And the inscriptions ? …. I write them when I gift  books to my friends and I look for them when I browse secondhand bookstores...

“ To a jolly good family , a jolly good read “ on an anthology of mystery stories.

“ They say he is the dream man of all ladies “ a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery by Dorothy Sayers .

‘ A man with a mole ,especially for you ‘ on a Agatha Christie….

My cousin P,  had once removed  the jacket of my Sherlock Holmes and designed an extremely intellectual cover.  He had put a thumbprint , a pipe ,a road map leading to 221B Baker Street , a corpse and a few imaginary dialogues between Holmes & Watson . It was probably a designer jacket  , but I was angry ...now I think he was just a different breed of carnal book lover !

There was another tradition in my childhood , of library binding of multiple books together. It probably prolonged the shelf life , but it made reading in bed practically impossible. Also , you could not read & eat simultaneously...you had to use a hand & a foot to keep the book open.

Now I feel , perhaps my mother was a courtly book lover,who wanted to protect my books from being food stained …..(she always used bookmarks !)