Discovering a wonderful book is a lot like falling in love.
The longer you spend together, the more deeply you fall. The better you get to know each other, the stronger you feel about where it’s leading. You go through a lot together: good times and bad times and hard times and happy times.
But before all of that — there’s a spark. There’s that wonderful something that attracts you in the first place: his hair, her smile, his clothes, her laugh, its front cover, the smell of its pages…
Here are a few of the things that draw me in when I’m browsing the bookshelves:
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1. Long, quirky, rhythmical titles
There’s something pretty magical about a mouthful of a title that rolls deliciously around in your mouth for a few seconds as you read it out. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Say those out loud and just try not to fall in love.
2. Not too long, not too short
I love a book I can devour over the course of one weekend. When I see that ideal book, with its cool 300 pages, promising that if I dive straight in on Friday night it will wrap itself up perfectly on Sunday evening — I’m a goner. I have to have it.
3. Block colors and big letters
I don’t tend to fall for covers with photographs on: women, flowers, houses, or (shudder) the movie version. Instead, its the big block colors that catch my eye. I love a cool blue, icy pink or deep red, splashed with big messy capital letters. They’re fun, they’re contemporary, they don’t give too much away — and they’re oh so pretty.
4. A second-hand book with a dedication
The most romantic sign of all is the handwritten dedication. There’s nothing more wonderful than that poetic inscription on the front page, dated from decades ago: a gift from someone you’ll never meet to somebody else who mattered to them, that’s somehow ended up here in this bookshop, and fallen open in your hands. Did anybody else just get chills? Someone, somewhere, once thought that this book was enough to express their feelings for some special person. Well, that’s good enough for me.