Ode to books

I came across this scribbled on my notebook; I can't remember writing it but I know it was sometime during my 34 hour journey from Korea to Finland:
"I'm in a peculiar mood – reading books always affects me. I started with a series of Murakami's short stories and moved on to Coelho's "The Witch of Portobello" and I'm now reading Scarlett Thomas's "The End of Mr. Y" – a book and author of which I've never heard before. And yet, as soon as I laid my hands on the book, I knew it was a good one. Which led me to wonder whether it's possible to have a sense for books."

I was probably delirious with lack of sleep, but I do remember getting a distinct feeling over that particular book – I had been considering one or two other books that I'd heard of before, or I knew the author, but when I spotted this book by chance (it was strangely under the section "War, fiction" at one of the bookstores at one of the airports), I instinctively knew it would be a good one.

But it could simply be because the book was about a book.

I have a very strong relationship with books. I'm a book-lover. I love a good story, I love the language that creates it; I love the smell and feel of books. I love books. Back when I was moving out of Finland for the first time, someone suggested that I should sell all my books and I very nearly burst out in tears. I feel a kind of melancholy when I finish a book I enjoyed reading. For a while, the book has my best friend, my nemesis, my lover... and picking up the next book feels like I'm betraying something, and I feel like the next book can never make me feel like the previous one did. While I'm reading a good story, it's the best story there is.

And the best thing is, it does not have to be a literary classic or even a very original story – it's all about the storytelling, how the writer has used his tools and crafted the atmospheres and the characters.

I've been visiting my tiny local library with my mother's library card lately – and it's a frustrating experience. Mostly I visit the fantasy and science fiction shelf, but I either own or have read most of the books there. The rest of the library; the small romance and crime sections aside, has all other fiction arranged alphabetically, so finding an interesting book is a game of chance. The books in English are in total perhaps 2 shelf-meters – alphabetically, so that Anne Rice is next to Ian Rankin, and Terry Pratchett is close to Plato. (Or would be, if they had Plato on the shelf.)

Although I'm terribly bored otherwise right now, I love the fact that I have time to read again (if only the library could properly cater for my needs). While I stayed in Korea, I had only a couple of books with me, and there really was no space in my room for more. I had my black skull sheets to bring some homeyness, but really what makes a home for me is having my books lining the walls. All I can say is that it will be a pain in the ass when/if I finally get a job somewhere in Asia...

No comments: