Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Salon - You Can't Judge a Book By the Lack of a Cover

I'm getting this week's Salon in under the wire.  That's because earlier today I was so eager to tell you about Rachel Simon's upcoming book, The Story of Beautiful Girl and the (wait for it!) eight-city pre-sale tour that she's currently on, courtesy of her publisher.  

Anyway, it's been a stressful week full of distractions, but also one with some pretty good books that have done their job in taking me away from real life. I'm only about 40 pages into Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, which I'm really enjoying so far.  This one has been on my TBR list for awhile, thanks to all the buzz that it has received from book bloggers.  I know it has received mixed reviews among some of us, but so far I am really enjoying this one and loving McCann's style of writing.

I started the week with The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris's second novel which I reviewed here and really enjoyed.  This is a novel that is about how we as humans have this innate desire to know the reasons why we are the way we are, why our personal circumstances are the way they are, and finding the purpose for one's life.  It's about how those we love are affected by the uncertainty of the words in sickness and in health and all the power those words hold.

After The Unnamed, it was on to We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.  I'll have more to say about this one in my review soon (suffice it to say that I really liked this and it will be staying with me for awhile), but take a look at the library copy of this one that I was reading.

No jacket. A frayed spine.  This was published in 1962, and the condition of this copy made me think this was one of the first books that ever graced our library system.  Most of the pages inside were faded and stained, as if someone was reading this with a cup of coffee or tea and got so enraptured with the prose that they spilled it all over the book. 

If you've read We Have Always Lived in the Castle, you know that tea is practically a character in the novel, so this just kind of adds to the creep factor.

(The print was darker and more in focus than my camera conveys; I've been having some technical difficulties with my camera lately.) 

But still, it kind of made me feel a bit connected to everyone who came before me and held this tattered volume in their hands.  I forgot to take a picture before it was due back, but there was one of the old-fashioned due date card pockets in the back of the book.  The first due date was March 12, 1975 (I was five years old!) and the last was sometime in 1987.  I hope that We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been in circulation since then.  (I'm guessing so, because otherwise I would have imagined it would have been weeded by now.)

It made me think about how many others have read this and I wondered about their reactions.  Did they wish they had a community, such as that of our book blogging family, to talk about the book and how it made them feel?  (What would readers in 1975 have thought about such a thing?) How many people browsing the stacks passed this one by, simply on the basis of looks alone?

And how many awesome books have I passed by, simply on the basis of looks alone?

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Wouldn't it be cool if there was some kind of "sign in" for everyone who reads a book...kinda like those books you sign when you stay in a bed and breakfast or condo??? Think of all the perspectives you could read!! I loved We Have Always Lived in a Castle and play to read much more of Shirley Jackson :)

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

Fun! It reminds me of the scene of the Sex & the City movie when Big chastises Carrie for reading library books, but she defends the smell and experience of old books. I've had Let the Great World Spin on my TBR for far too long, so I'll be curious to see how you end up liking it. Connected stories sometimes aren't quite connected enough for me.

Iliana said...

I love seeing little notes in old books because you are right, it does somehow connect you to the previous reader. However I don't like stained books. I don't know they just feel so icky! :)

Glad to hear you are enjoying your reads! I want to read all of these.

JoAnn said...

I loved Let The Great World Spin! It was one of my favorites last year. If you get the chance, listen to part of the audio version. I listened and read this one - it was a truly amazing experience.

Lisa said...

At my new library they actually stamp the book with a date, so you can look back and see when the last person checked it out. Newer books don't go back far, but we've had some go a decade or more back. Makes me want to pull books at random to find the oldest.