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What do we talk about when we talk about books? The smell. The texture of the paper. The weight of the object in our hands. The typography. The cover art. The heft of a tome. The slender spine. The deckled edge. The warp and weft of bookcloth. The connection we feel with the characters. The impact of a story on our psyche. The emotional journey we embark on at the hands of an unknown navigator.
Being a book lover is a sensual experience—it engages all of the senses and trips all of our pleasure wires. One person’s fetish is another person’s passion, and book lovers are some of the most passionate people I know. We have a capacity for empathy and emotion that has been honed over a lifetime of caring deeply for others. As a reader, you don’t just put yourself in another person’s shoes, you disassociate and become someone else. You hand over your heart and mind to an author you have never met and you trust that stranger to treat you with care. They might break your heart. They might haunt your dreams. They might infuriate you. Or, worst of all, they might disappoint you. It’s a gamble. Just like love. Just like life.
For those of us who have devoted ourselves to books, it is an endlessly rewarding love affair. There will always be more books than there are hours in the day. We can surround ourselves with overflowing shelves, the mere sight of which can bring us joy. Our best beloveds will never grow old. Our relationship with literature will evolve and change over time, but the books will remain long after we’re gone. They are a symbol of so much more than words on a page. They are a legacy of the varied lives we lead, a record of the past and present, a vision of the future. A promise of so much more.
Perhaps that is why so many of us love reading (and writing) books about books. As book people, we see ourselves in the pages, and like Narcissus, we can’t look away. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Call me a fetishist, call me a narcissist. There are far worse things you could be obsessed with other than books. If you must feed an addiction, better make it a reading habit. Here are seven books of fiction and seven nonfiction works that celebrate the love of books.
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