When I was a little girl, my grandfather gave me a copy of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’s “Two Years Before the Mast.” This wasn’t his favorite book, in fact, he had never read it. Its sole purpose was to put a smile on my face when I saw the singular word written across the spine, “Dana.” Seeing my name on a leather bound book made me immensely proud. Ever since then, I pick up every copy I find in a bookstore. This collection, now totaling nine copies, got me thinking. When we think about books, we automatically think of the stories they tell that transport us to other places far and near. But, what is it about the physicality of books that we find so comforting?
Just as everyone has their own reading preferences – fiction or thriller, history or philosophy – these preferences actually extend far beyond the pages. In today’s world of technological achievement, this conversation is typically centered around e-books and e-readers. But, what if it goes further? When examining my own interests and preferences, I came to the conclusion that I prefer paperback books so I can easily bend and contort the covers and pages to read more comfortably. I also enjoy small paperbacks I can easily fit in a purse, since I cannot travel without a book in hand. Some people are put off by used books with annotations in them, but I relish the opportunity to read someone else’s thoughts and takeaways in our very own intimate book club. I love the way old, tattered covers look on my bookshelves. These physical traits tell us a different story of a well-loved, well-used book and the journey it took to find a new home in your hands or on your shelf.
For more discovery into the physical aspects of books, be sure to check out Keith Houston’s “The Book: A Cover-to Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time.” Additionally, our Friends of the Princeton Public Library Used Bookstore is the perfect place to find a book that suits your interests. Whether big or small, new or old, or even rare and obscure, you’re sure to find your next great interest.