The first thing in my list of favourite things here is the overall experience associated with reading of books. Now when I say the ‘entire’ experience, I mean literally everything! From browsing of books in stores (or online these days) to the smell of books to reading it whilst maintaining the integrity of its pages to selecting a suitable bookmark for its use to getting lost in the contents of the book to the lingering thoughts on the book in the time after – I love each of these activities! Each of these steps has a special place in my heart with regard to the happiness that it imparts.
To start the process of procuring a book to read, I still prefer going to a bookstore. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shop that sells new books or one where you get old and used books at lower prices. A bookstore is like a temple for me. It’s sacred, often very very quiet and there is so much knowledge and wisdom to gain from all the stuff around you 🙂 One more thing I love about bookstores is that you will mostly see people with a genuine interest in books hanging around there. Which is so much better than other hangout places (read malls or cafes) which are thronged by people simply whiling away their time and destroying the peace in the place!
I still love this process more than browsing through book covers and previews on websites. Because holding a book in my hands is the best way for me to feel any kind of connection with it! I don’t classically ‘judge a book by its cover’ 😛 I judge it more by the connection and vibes that I feel with it. Purely unconditional 🙂 And once I feel the connect, I buy it immediately!! I think books have taught me more about unconditional love even before people did 😛 And I thoroughly enjoy the process of developing this ‘unconditional’ bond with the book even before starting to read it!
At this stage, new unread books versus old books provide two different kind of connections, and I love both! Crisp fresh printed pages that have not been turned at all, and show no creases or sign of handling at the binding edge are an instant attractant. Even when I browse books in a bookstore, I take extra care to check that my browsing does not create creases or dampen the integrity of the binder. It’s one of my ways of showing respect towards a book 🙂 In fact, I try to continue this practice during the actual reading of the book as well!
Likewise, the experience of an old book is altogether different, yet has a charm of its own. Yellowed pages, with remains of usage and turning over, often dog-eared from the previous user, give it a sense of an experienced mature elder sibling. These kinds of books I feel have more than one story to narrate. The first one is of course the one that’s written directly in its pages. The others are ones associated with the book reading experiences of it’s previous readers. When I buy such a book, I always wonder about its previous readers and what they must’ve been through in the course of reading this book 🙂
The next step after this is the actual reading of the book. Running through the various chapters of the books, associating with different characters, pondering over their lives no matter how fictitious the story is – all form a part of this experience. The best part about enjoying a well written book is the way it takes you to places through simply the magic of words and stirring up of your mental imagination processes. And by places I mean it literally takes you to different geographical places that are there in the book; as also to a whole lot of different kinds of personalities and situations that are often way beyond the finite thinking or imagination scope that we have! This emotional transportation to different places and different minds and people is one of the most enjoyable experiences that any kind of books give you. Besides, the literal experience of reading a book – at night with the night lamp on, with your coffee mug besides you, or sitting by the window side, or simply while lazying around on the couch – is just as enjoyable as well.
In the course of the book reading itself, I also like to pay extra attention to the kind of bookmarks that I am using with it. I am a bookmark hoarder, totally love the different kinds that we get out there in the market. Also my crafting instincts often prompt me to make my own bookmarks as well. I have this insistent theory about the suitability of a bookmark for a book based on the contents, colour as also size of the book!! So this bookmark selection process is also something that I totally enjoy and when the right kind of bookmark sits in the right kind of book, it adds to the feel-good ness of the entire book reading!!
Lastly, we come to the end of the process of book reading, wherein some books stay lingering in your mind for months, maybe even years after reading it. Some books have a temporary build up of thoughts, more unstable, and which end up getting diluted within days of reading it. But there are also the others which leave a lasting impact on your mind. I often enjoy the second kind more. When this happens, reading a book becomes like an enlightening conversation that you may have had, and which has several take-homes from it.
So in a nutshell, this is the first one from my list of favourite things! To experience book reading in a holistic manner. To give a book the time and attention that it deserves. To love a book in its entirety and to gain all that you can from it 🙂 Even though I have learnt to adapt to new age reading and I read on the Kindle as well, no amount of digital reading has really been a substitute enough for the actual reading from a book. I sincerely hope book reading doesn’t get completely wiped off in this age of digitization!