“Every book should begin with attractive endpapers. Preferably in a dark colour: dark red or dark blue, depending on the binding. When you open the book it’s like going to the theatre. First you see the curtain. Then it’s pulled aside and the show begins.”
It was busy today. I don’t know why, just a usual Friday with ducks on the road. I had to dust all the shelves. There was a tiny nest in a hollow in the dust where I usually park. In it were two small hopeful blue eggs. I parked carefully so not to disturb. Over the road people are slewed about on the lawns with cans of coke and paper bags.
A mother came in with her two children. An older boy in sunglasses and earphones. A younger girl in a blue sweater. They bought a stack, and one choice was a leather bound volume, The Complete Shakespeare in black, gold, and toffee. Heavy. Gold edges. I said, ‘Who gets this one?’, and the child answered, ‘Me’, as if I should have known.
I was impressed. She volunteered nothing more. But on the way out she turned back to me and said she was making a library in her bedroom. It would have hidden shelves. One shelf would open because it was actually a door, and inside, another room, and in that room another shelf would open because is was actually a magic door, and in that room another magic door, and in that room another one….
I sat back stricken with envy.
Image by Elina Ellis
I have The Count of Monte Cristo and it is mine. I tell people about this when they come into the shop and watch them flush with admiration or envy or disbelief or complete disinterest.
There was no need for this purchase; I have far too many books now than I can ever read.
Robert said that this is no reason to stop getting more books.
I admitted that gluttony prompted me. It is a second hand volume and, although mildly damaged, is still very handsome. It wears leather, blue and gold with crimson accessories.
It weighs as much as a small leather building.
This book has, at some point landed in a pool of water, briefly but definitely. Its underside is swollen, injured. The gold edged pages are beautiful; the book closed shows a solid gold box. But the water damage has loosened the gold edging on the bottom and it now showers me in gold whenever I pick it up, it shares its gilding with me; when I open the book to read its golden heart, more gold is thrown at me.
I keep on telling people about The Count and how I might read it in the garden on the warm evenings. I have never read The Count of Monte Cristo, only read about it…Damien said there is a TV show about it, a guy locked up like a fool and all that. Good show.
The sheer elegance of the book wins all; the sheer heft of the book wins again. And leather.
David said: you won’t like it.
One old lady said: oh dear, that uneventful thing, it went on forever.
I pack up the shop and head home through the afternoon to my good, good evening.