Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book Looks

When I was younger, I often selected books based on the thickness of their spine. I read so much and so quickly that I wanted to get bang for my buck, so I selected thick books so that they would last longer. When I was trying to decide among several books, the thickest one always won out.

I am still affected by how a book looks. Trade paperbacks are most appealing to me. The size is just right--not a small squat mass paperback, but not an unwieldy hardback. I love the feel of the smooth matte covers.

I have always taken advantage of the library, and used to love to buy bargain used books, but I've come to realize lately that aesthetics matter. I picked up a copy of one of C.S. Lewis' books on the free table at the library (which is where books end up that were donated for the book sale, but they decide not to sell). Although it seemed like an interesting book, the dated and slightly dog-eared cover just did not call to me. I never read it, and in fact ended up donating it back to the library, planning to buy my own new copy.

For the same reason, I'm not checking out as many novels at the library anymore. The library binding with the plastic dustjacket is like eating a four-star meal off of a paper plate. Sometimes a free meal off a paper plate tastes better than a $100 meal on fine china, and so goes the library as well. I love using it to try out cookbooks, for reference, and to fill my children's voracious appetites, but because I have a steady stream of novels sent here for me to review, I can afford to discriminate.

A book (trade paperback and thick and brand new) did recently call to me. My review (and giveaway) for The Moon in the Mango Tree is posted today at 5 Minutes for Mom. The book is over 450 pages long. It was not thrilling and suspenseful, yet it didn't drag either. I enjoyed each page of the story as it unfolded.

However, as I was reading it, I was thinking about the many other books that I'd like to read. There are so many stories out there, and if I'm reading an extra-long book, I'm missing out on another story. I have found that a thick book has to be really compelling for me to choose it over another. When I was young my time was unlimited. There was an infinite number of stories, as there are now, but I didn't feel the pressure to read them all. I don't feel pressured now, but I do feel desire to consume as many wonderful words as possible, and the time to read a long book pushes aside someone else's story.

Find out more about what I'm reading tomorrow (including another thick book that is waiting to be read), when I post in the first What's on Your Nightstand? carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books. You're welcome to join in as well.

Do have odd preferences regarding the looks of your books? Have you always held them, or have they changed a bit like mine?


Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I tend to like hardcovers and definitely NOT the short fat paperbacks that you can barely open wide enough to read the words on the page. We brought home some old (1960s) children's books from the library this week. I love them! Hard covers withOUT the plastic covered dust jacket.

Jen Rouse said...

I kind of like old dog-eared used books. There's a little bit of mystery to them, knowing they've been somewhere, been read by others, before.

Katrina said...

Hmm...Maybe this is why I don't use the library (or even Half-Price Books) as often as I should. I admit I love the feel, look, and even smell of a brand new book. I don't know if I have a thickness preference...books that are TOO big intimidate me these days, and I fear I won't fit them in amidst all the other stuff there is to do. I think I like a good medium-length book, paperback (hardcovers are too heavy to hold when I'm tired). Intriguing covers seem to affect me as well -- I'll pick them over a "boring" cover more often than not.

L.L. Barkat said...

Look and feel definitely matters. And the smell of new pages. Oh, I like that.

At A Hen's Pace said...

While I appreciate new books, I learned as a child not to judge a book by its cover! Some of the most wonderful stories unfolded from some of the most unlikely-looking pages.

I actually kinda like used books with someone else's name and bookmark in them. I feel like I'm following someone else down a worn path...