Beauty of Books

In the movie Legally Blonde (I know it was originally a book, but I only saw the movie, OK?), beauty queen Elle Woods becomes deeply depressed when her jerk of a boyfriend Warner Huntington III dumps her before heading off to Harvard Law School. Her friends, in an effort to comfort her, say, “What ALWAYS makes us feel better, no matter WHAT?” Cut to the beauty salon for manicures and pedicures!!

While manicures and pedicures fill me with impatience and boredom (just ask my mom), what always makes ME feel better no matter what is shopping for books. However, I never read as fast as I buy books, which results in massive piles of unread books gathering dust on my bookshelves or floor. In an effort to stem the tide of unread material in my apartment, I routinely try to stave off buying books until I have made a good headway into the original pile.

However, a particularly trying day (or weekend, week, month, maybe year?) often leads me to break my rule and buy books with abandon. This weekend witnessed one such escapade, and I greedily sat poring over my spoils last night.

I was surprised to find how visually lovely I found the books. I have friends and family who will go through their shopping bags after a hard day’s buying, to touch and admire the lovely clothes they had purchased. Similarly, I sat running my fingers over the glossy covers, admiring the smooth pages, and the uncreased spines that I will use all my power to guarantee they REMAIN uncreased spines.

I realized I find books very beautiful. There’s a reason sometimes I’m not down with buying a used book with it’s crumbling, faded, antiquated cover. Those books have a charm all their own, to be sure, but I think there’s no shame in enjoying buying new editions with artistic covers. It’s not just the materials that fill the pages: the books themselves strike me as very beautiful.

Anyway, here is some documentation of my spoils from the weekend, and some of my current reading material as well:

This was one solution to the 3 or 4 stacks of books that used to grace my living room last spring. Empty mantelpiece + shit-ton of books = Space saver and book eye candy!

Here’s a fan-out:

A closeup of my two new graphic novels. The Superman: For Tomorrow copy was recommended by a friend, and I just couldn’t help myself when I saw the graphic novel prequel to the Batman: Arkham City game (coming out today!). Arkham Asylum has been extended to an entire “quarantined” city, and Batman struggles to find out who is the mastermind behind this recent plot (pardon the poor lighting for this photo):

On the, er, more intellectual side, I present two books that I may or may not have purchased while feeling giddy after consuming some tasty adult beverages one particular Friday night. I regret nothing. We have Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a mostly fiction piece on bohemian Paris in the 1920s, a subject and work now whored-out on film thanks to the too heavy-handed tactics of filmmaker Woody Allen in his rather silly movie Midnight in Paris. On the right we have an extremely rare impulse buy: let me state for the record that I never, NEVER wander into a bookstore thinking, “Hmm, what should I read next? I have no idea, let me browse!”. It just doesn’t happen; I have waiting lists for books to read that extend to about 3 to 4 years back. I often squeeze in new things I hear of, certainly, recommendations from people, or new books I uncover. But I’m never at a loss for ideas when I enter a store.

Thus, the impulse buy is extremely rare (that is, the picking up a book and going “Huh. This looks interesting. I think I’ll buy it.”). The only other incident that immediately comes to mind was the purchase of Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture. That was very lucky for me, and I enjoyed it immensely. This is not the last time you shall hear of it from me, I promise.

Anyhoo, this book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones, looks to be a good read. It opened with the anecdote of a cocktail party of educated, liberal intellectuals (folks who would never tolerate prejudice of race, gender, or sexual orientation in their vicinity) openly mocking the lower classes of modern Britain. Sounds very interesting:

Finally, what follows are various photos I’ve taken of some old and the newer books. Amongst them is a beautiful edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (one of those Penguin hardcovers), my current reread for the past week for the Encore book club. Of the pile of lovely new books are: Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus (a merging of the original Faust myth and early twentieth century Germany will make for explosive reading, I can’t wait), Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler (a foray into the crime/mystery genre, which I will be reading together with a friend), James Joyce’s Ulysses (I know. I know. I KNOW. But believe it or not, it’s a mother-daughter activity, I’m going to read it in the original English while my mom fulfills a life goal and reads a translation in Spanish), and a book I’ve been babysitting for YEARS (since I already owned a brief collection of Orwell’s essays), All Art is Propaganda, a collection of George Orwell’s critical essays.

Enjoy the photos:

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