The Exquisite Quintessence of books

The Exquisite Quintessence of books

I enjoy reading.

In fact I enjoy reading just about anything, from the back of shampoo bottles, cereal packets, junk mail and flyers, fast food placemats and holiday brochures, in fact I read just about everything that has words printed or scribbled on it.

Most of all though, I like to read books, any books. Whether it’s a fictional novel, a biography or a factual tome; and like most of the people I know, I have several books on my bedside cabinet. I take a few easy reading paperbacks on my holidays, so I can read while I’m relaxing on the beach or by the pool.

I no longer commute, but when I did I always had a novel with me to while away the time on the tube or the train. Those poor books suffered many indignities during their life with me. I only had the time to read them in ‘bite-size’ phases, so they were often mistreated by being casually tossed into a bag, or wedged into a pocket, which was far too small to accommodate them without causing distortion. Other times I have been guilty of rolling a book up and forcing it into a tiny compartment of a case.

I have thereby read many twisted, misshapen, torn and dog-eared novels, many with loose pages and scuffed covers, and that, in my world is a good thing!

No, no, I do not mean the mistreatment, I mean always having a book with me, regardless of its condition when I inherited it, or passed it on to a friend.

A book in any condition, without a reader, is nothing more than a stack of paper. It is an inanimate object with very little use.

You may steady that wonky table by wedging a book under one of its legs. Alternatively you may pile a stack upon a shelf, or even line the walls of your lounge with regimented volumes, bound in green and red leather, a mini library of unread literature there solely for the purpose of decoration.

Apart from that, a book is basically valueless unless it has someone to read it.

Once opened a book is no more than sheet after sheet of paper, decorated with a collection of seemingly random symbols.

To decipher those symbols one must have the key. That key is language. The right language. I for one cannot read Mandarin, or understand the Cyrillic alphabet, so books written in those languages are just groups of symbols spread across the page, and because I cannot read them they are of little value to me.

Oh, but once you open the cover of a Novel which is written in a language you can understand, what magic then flows forth from those strange symbols, what enchanted fascinations emit from otherwise inanimate pages.

As soon as that secret door opens you are transported into a fantasy world, a nether world in which anything is possible and everything imaginable becomes conceivable.

This is the Exquisite Quintessence of books.

It is pure escapism from the norm, the basic and often boring routines of life. How many times have you paused during your reading and looked up from the pages and, for those ensuing few moments, have had to collect your thoughts, bring yourself back to the real world?

I compare that moment to awaking suddenly, being jolted from a deep sleep. It takes a while to re-boot, to re-focus your mind on where you are, who you are, and what you’re actually doing there in the first instance!

I do not believe that there is any other medium that can create such a wonderful experience as reading a book. There is nothing else in which we can become so totally immersed that all around fades, for that period, into irrelevance.

This is the Exquisite Quintessence of books.

Which leads me onto the issue of eBooks verses Real books. I know there are benefits to both formats, for instance you can cram an awful lot of reading material into the memory of a reading tablet. This electronic wizardry allows one to carry a virtual library with them wherever they may be, and to have the ability to add to it almost instantaneously. Without doubt there are many benefits to eBooks, which is why I make all my books available in digital formats as well as the traditional printed versions.

For me however the Real book, either hard backed or paperback, gives the reader something that no device can deliver; that is a tactile and sensory quality.

To be able to feel a book, to touch the paper, to physically turn its pages is a wonderful thing. Add to that the smell, the woody, inky, sometimes musty scent which pervades a printed work and, for me at least, I am instantly moved.

Those scents, the tactile feel of the paper, the sound of the page rustling as you turn it, brings not only a sense of pending adventure, but memories of past experiences, and the places that previous books have taken me to.

I do not think that any electronic devise, any amount of technical sorcery could ever conjure a spell of such vivid intensity that is imparted by the wholesomeness of a real book.

This is the Exquisite Quintessence of books.

Enjoy your reading, wherever it takes you!

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Paul White
I am a Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet, and Blogger. I write contemporary fiction which covers various genres and topics including, life, love, anger, anguish, fear, uncertainty, and loss. The common denominator is that they all feature the most important matter of all, the human condition.

As for myself… I have a warped sense of humour, love good food, good wine and good company. I am an ardent independent traveler, nature lover, and supporter of ecological and wildlife preservation.

I am always seeking new commissions, contracts & collaborations


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