The husband and I are big time book-lovers. We are the kind who walk into a book store and stop a moment to take in the wonderful smell of books. Staying in Bangalore, there aren't too many places to go to, in the city. Movies, malls, pubs (yeah, we are the pub city, remember?), food joints and more recently book-stores. We nearly always pick the last two. Between the two of us, we invest thousands of rupees every month, on books. The huge wall-to-wall bookshelf in our house (my little library - yeah, yeah, turn green) is overcrowded with books of all colours and sizes, science, fantasy, fiction, romance, thrillers, math, management, there are so many with barely space for more.
I am pretty sure that my gold medal in school (ok, ok, you may stop clapping and sit down now) was simply due to my love for reading and books, not so much my intelligence. My school books were crammed with notes wherever there was a white space in between lines, words and around the page. When I studied for the exams, I'd feel compelled to read the notes scrawled across the pages, which most of the time was pretty much the same as the text and explained in different words by the teacher. In effect, I read everything twice. That was my advantage over everyone else.
I digress. The point I am trying to make is, by the end of each year, my books would look used (abused is a more appropriate word) and there was hardly a point in trying to sell them off to second hand book-stores. I never wanted to anyway, it was my parents who would force me to part with my books... I'd fight tooth & nail for them but in about 4 - 5 years time I would have never looked at them and that would be the classic argument that led to my downfall & my parents' victory.
In my final year of college, I met my husband. He was absolutely delighted to find out that I loved books too and was eager to lend me some of his own. The difference lay in the fact that his love for books also meant that the books looked as good as new for years after he had bought them and read them numerous times. No creases in the spine, no dog-ears, no sign that the book had ever been opened, let alone been read!
The first couple of books he gave me went back looking about 5 years older. One of them was all wrinked at the spine, slightly folded around the edge whereas in the other, there were a few loose pages. I never realized it back then but it chills my spine when I think of it now. Poor guy. It must have nearly killed him to see that! He never said a word, back then. Talk about love being blind! As months rolled by and the blindness receded (the love didn't, I swear), a dog-ear on a page or a line of crease would kick off an episode of books flying and hitting the walls, doors slamming and banging tables.
Thanks to the intensive training (yeah, he'd want me to read a book he really liked and I'd better return it looking just like it did before I started), I now keep my books in pretty good condition too. Since I mastered the act (never open a book fully, always read them opened in a V-fashion to avoid creases; use book-marks), my books are in pretty good condition too. I don't cram notes on my books anymore (except an occasional underline or a reference note) and I use book-marks. I like my books in good condition. I never lend my books unless I know they will be returned and in good shape. Fortunately, I've managed not to reach the point of sufferance where a crease would upset me for days on end.
I was reading A Cup Of Comfort For Friends while on the toilet this morning (in my defense, it's a book of anthologies, each spanning 4 - 5 pages max & I can easily read a story or two, in the time) and my heart skipped a beat, right in the middle of a short story. There was a crease right in the middle of a page. A sharp one, with a small cut at the top. A slight tug and the page would split into two. I took a sharp breath and continued to read. Turned the page and the same on the next sheet. I couldn't read anymore. Forced myself to finish the story. It hurts. This wasn't one of my favourite books because I am not so hot on anthologies. However, some of the the stories in this book are not bad and they make perfect reading for my mornings in the bathroom. That's not important. My book. Torn. Well, almost. Why didn't I check before I bought it? Ah, it hurts.
Obviously, the images in this blog are courtesy Google search. While I'm at it, here are some pictures of what I'd really like. A home library. A large room full of books. Shelves filled with old and new books. Ah, I dream on...