In many ways, they are your closest friends, your ever constant companions, made up of paper, ink, glue--sometimes even held together by needle and thread in much the same way your dress is. Their spines are a familiar weight in your hands; the soft leaves stamped over with words are like parts of a continuously unfolding oracle.
When you walk into your favorite used bookstore, it is as if you can feel these stories reaching out to you, as if you could wrap them around you like a blanket and disappear inside their covers. You have long outgrown the notion that everyone feels this way about bookstores, about books; not everyone wants to nourish the imagination nor indulge in this portable feast for the senses. But for you, that nourishment is life--it is your internal life, often a thousand times louder, more vibrant than your waking one.
The smell of the books--a heady scent reminiscent of lightly smoked tea leaves--is its own soothing perfume. It doesn't matter what it is. A worn sword and sorcery book, the bubbled letters on the cover almost completely worn off, though the epic scene below the title remains surprisingly intact. Or the slim, nondescript volume by Colette almost lost in the crush of the bigger books around it. Then there are the vintage pulp books whose titillating covers alone could keep you occupied for hours. They all promise to lead you where you need to go simply by making you turn one page after the other.
You find the advice you didn't know you were looking for in the folds of a Rilke book and another on women readers by an author whose name escapes you the moment you set the book back on its shelf--the name forgotten, but not the wisdom. For once you cannot find a book that calls to you, ready to find a new home among your other books. It is simply enough to be surrounded by these friends, to walk the narrow aisle and get lost in the piles of stories, so crammed together it is almost as if their contents bleed into one another, create new narratives to fill the shelves. It is enough to fill yourself up with the possibility of these stories even as you turn homeward, already looking forward to an afternoon reading the book you can still picture perched on your nightstand ready for your hands upon it, your eyes caressing the ink of its pages.
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