When I go through the door, it’s like entering a new world. Lots of new worlds. As many worlds as there are books.
I like the silence, the hush, the sense of expectation. People are quiet in bookstores, they stand alone and gaze at books, their minds already half away. SOmetimes they pick up a book and flick through it’s pages with a delicate touch. The book purrs under the notice, catlike. (Books are cats to me. Loved but indifferent to you.)
I wander in bookstores. I drift around tables, touching covers, picking up the odd book and reading the blurb. I spend a few minutes in front of the ‘beautiful books’ section, wishing I could justify another copy of Jane Eyre just for that pen-and-ink cover. I can’t. I drift some more.
I feel at peace in bookstores. A combination of factors – the smell, the colours, the presence of those books, all those billions of words – it has a weight to it, which no matter how unhappy I am makes me feel better. I usually find my way to one of three sections – Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Horror, or Crime. Sometimes I amble through the fiction section, but only when I’m looking for something in particular. When I just want to get a new book, not caring which. I go straight to one of the former three.
This is where I start acting like a Booksexual (Librosexual? Bibliosexual?) in earnest. I touch the books. I stroke them. Lift them to my nose and sniff them. I treat them like a person treats their lover. The only thing I don’t do is stick them inside me because a: don’t want to be arrested b: don’t want to be banned and c: papercuts OW. But I love them. In this moment I am poised on the edge of something magnificent – discovery, friendships, love, all of those things could wait for me in here. I stroke my thumb along the pages.
Once I’ve bought the book, I’m impatient. I get it home, and immediately sit down to immerse myself in its world, know it’s characters, feel it properly. It usually only takes me a few hours to read a standard novel if I have no distractions, and that first read through NEVER has distractions. If the book is good, I get lost in it and finishing it leaves me in that strange, disconnected space where nothing feels right.
If the book is bad, I am angry and disappointed in the same way as if I’d been lied to by a friend. My expected journey is spoiled. My love was misused. My money was spent on something not wothwhile. I am dissatisfied.
I’ve been denied my deserved climax, the emotional connection I want from books. The writer has taken it from me. I am furious.
And that, children, that feeling? That is where vicious reviews come from.