Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Most Delicious Moment

You're wandering through shelves of books in the library. A spine catches your eye; you pull out the book and like the cover and title. On a whim, you check the book out.

You've never heard of the author. You didn't read the flap. You don't even know what genre the books is in; you found it in the adult section. Knowing absolutely nothing about the book, you begin reading.

You will love this book all the more because you met it separated from the world. It will feel like a secret friend, a buried treasure. Reading is an infinitely intimate act.

This sort of scenario rarely happens, at least for me these days. I read books by authors I like, or because a friend recommends them, or because the flaps are intriguing. In other words, I always have preconceived notions. But imagine sitting down with a book exactly as the author intended it: When the author started writing this book they didn't have a flap copy in mind; they weren't writing to an audience that had already read a review of the book. They were simply writing, letting their imagination play.

It's winter break so when I saw an intriguing title at the library, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, I grabbed it. I read the flap copy and decided to check it out, but by the time I sat down with the book, I'd completely forgotten what the flap had said. I know nothing of this book but the title.

In the midst of reading the first chapter, I realized I was caught up in almost-painful suspense, wondering where this book could possibly be leading. An ignorant but pretty girl in petticoats who likes to take tea, then a train ride with people in feathered masks, then an operating room-cum-theater, a current of eroticism surfacing. It begins delightful and witty but turns macabre. I was only in the first chapter but there were maybe five hundred pages yet to go. I couldn't guess at a plot arc, I didn't know what genre this was, the book wasn't easily fitting into any category. My imagination sketched out smoky possibilities.

This is the most delicious moment. This is the peak of reading. No matter how good the book is, by the end it will not be as good the smoky lines of possibility. There is nothing as good as the tantalizing unknown. Savor this moment.

1 comment:

  1. SOooo true. And who wrote that little about me blurb? It sounds like the kinda thing someone else writes. Like you're blog post for amy. Excessive?