I have many books of almost every genre crowding almost every shelf in my home. Some have already been read years before and have accumulated a thin layer of dust. Others are new and haven't been opened up as yet, but I purchased them before their titles became distant memories. Filling up those bookshelves is easy nowadays. All it takes is a computer click or a short drive to a bookstore. Before you know it, there are small piles on nightstands and in room corners.
There's something about cradling a book in one's hands that could be akin to holding delicate china. At least at first. Books ask to be read, for their pages to be turned, for their stories to be told, for their ideas to be mulled over. After awhile, we dog-ear corners when the newness wears off; we stick make-shift bookmarks between their pages or, worse yet, use the cover flap to keep our place. We toss them into carry-ons, bags, and backseats. And there's the tactile. Let's not forget that. The weight of it, grasping front and back covers, left hand, right hand, the comfort of settling under the covers late at night and living and breathing other worlds. Reality falls away like shattered glass and you go inside the author's head and inspiration. Yes, even inside a bombed-out bookstore. Sanity is alive and well inside those pages as the world around you goes dark. I can imagine if I'd lived in 1940, how I would seek literal refuge inside that blackened bookstore, oblivious to the fire and brimstone. How peaceful it would be in that place; how glorious to read and remember when life was normal and the greatest challenge was to carve out time for the simple pleasures of reading. Glorious, indeed.
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