Simple but complicated question: what makes you love a book?
@randomhouse recently posed this question on twitter and I realised that there was no way I could answer it in one or even two or three tweets. In a way, this entire blog has been my attempt to answer that question, and I don't think I will ever finish answering it, as long as there are more books to be read. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth a crack here, where I have more room for verbal gesticulation.
I love a book that makes me cry, that makes me remember something I once felt just as strongly as if it were happening again. A book where I can completely and utterly feel myself in a character's shoes, and experience their emotions as my own.
I love a book where the words are so beautiful I want to pluck them off the page, turn them into a brooch, and wear them on my chest. A book where the words sound like a delicately tinkling piano, a cup of tea after a storm of tears, or the water sparkling on Sydney Harbour on a Saturday morning.
I love a book that makes me rethink the world.
I love a book that is so full of ideas I can spent hours discussing them with people.
And that doesn't even begin to cover cookbooks, which I love for the promise they hold of experiences to come. The delicious tastes to be created, the happiness and contentment that will come from sharing food with people dear to me, and the wonderful evenings of talk and good times and laughter that will be held together with food cooked from the pages of such books.
I took a break from writing this post to visit our local farmers market and discussed some of these ideas with Tallboy over coffee and croissants on the grass*. I asked him the same question and found it fascinating that his answer was quite different from mine, bringing home the point that there are almost as many reasons to read as there are people. Here is an edited version of what makes him love a book:
"The riches and the originality of the lived experience that's displayed on the page; whether fiction or non-fiction ... and it's a bonus if the book smells nice too".
*Yes, I am showing off. It was idyllic. And also I am bending the truth a little; I had an almond croissant but Tallboy had a slice of rhubarb crumble.