Monday, October 11, 2004


The situation has become grave. I am now purchasing books because their covers are nice. Browsing in the local Book City, I spotted a softcover edition of Ronan Bennett's Havoc, In Its Third Year, and knew that I had to have it, even though the plot synopsis on the back cover didn't convince me that I had to have it for other more legitimate reasons. Here we have a classic example of a bibliophilic penchant for the book as a physical object. The book in question brings to mind the books encountered at the Fisher library for the duration of an exacting course in analytical bibliography, and to which the aforementioned bibliophilic penchant can alone be attributed. How else to explain the overwhelming urge to measure the serif typeface on the cover? Imagine my disappointment upon opening the book to discover the absence of chain lines on the paper.

I would never have admitted it in the past, but the discipline of analytical bibliography has insidiously stayed with me and haunts me every time I walk into a library or a bookstore. A book, wherever its physicality might be found, lures me as much for its form as it does for its content, and the prospect of resting the book in its designated place on the bookshelf holds as much delight as retrieving that book and delving into the amassed words that avail themselves within. It should be mentioned that the latter activity occurs with less frequency as the years pass, a fact that leaves me at once remorseful and resigned to the knowledge that it is impossible for me to read the many volumes that I have accumulated and will continue to accumulate until I'm stopped dead in my tracks. The books, however, will live on, as they tend to do, perhaps left in the library of the house in which I eventually plan to live, or perhaps left for the enjoyment of someone with one type of bibliophilic penchant or another.

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