Monday, July 30, 2012

Bookish Memories

You probably have noted the title of this post, by now.  I was sitting here, trying to figure out what to call it, when I remembered my post Bookish Nostalgia.  This post being sort of similar, I decided to title this one Bookish Memories, and make it into a sort-of-kind-of-maybe series.

Something interesting about books, is the stories that they tell.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Duh, they’re books.  Of course they tell stories.”

But the stories I’m talking about aren’t those stories.  No.  The stories I’m talking about are the ones that come across your mind when you pick the book up, and look at it.  The stories that you have added to the book.  Take my copy of The Fault in Our Stars, for example.  I remember the day I drove half an hour to go get that book.  We were having dinner at our friend’s house that night, and I remember reading it in the car while my mom went and got tapenade from the store, or something.  And I remember getting sushi on the way home, and eating it in the car and reading the book.  With the book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I know that I’ll probably associate it with ferry rides, because I was reading it for the first time the other day, when we had to wait in line for a ferry for an hour.

I associate my copy of Airborn by Kenneth Oppel with sitting outside in the sun on a lazy spring evening, picking up the book I had started, and was only four chapters into, and then suddenly realizing just how good it was, and tearing through it in one evening.  The book Looking for Alaska reminds me of plane rides, and the excited feeling you get when you’re going somewhere.   My copy of Goliath by Scott Westerfeld reminds me of sadder things, however.  It makes me think of why I got it.  Yes, I got it at a signing by Scott Westerfeld, when he came to my city, which was amazing and hilarious, but it also makes me sad, because it reminds me of my grandfather’s death.  The reason my mom got it for me was because the day that my grandfather died, I was her buddy, and we ended up going to sign paperwork and stuff.  A week later, she got me Goliath at the signing, as a sort of thank-you.

Something that John Green often says is “Books belong to their readers.”  I didn’t really know what he meant by that, until recently.  I was looking at my bookshelf, and having all these memories come back to me. 

A more unique memory that comes to me, while scanning my bookshelf, is from the book, The King in the Window, by Adam Gopnik.  I read this book (well, my mother read it to me,) shortly before I went to Paris, because it’s set in Paris.  And so, when we went to Paris, we were at the Louvre, and there’s this one scene in The King in the Window, where the main character goes to this one room in the Louvre, which is filled with swords.  And I still have no idea if this room actually exists, but when we were in the Louvre, we went on a sort of quest, looking for this room.  We didn’t find it, but it was fun—though my sister didn’t like it, as it meant she didn’t get to stand and read every single thing about each piece of art.  Though had she done that, she would have been in the Louvre for days and days.  But still.  We ran around the museum, looking for this one room.  I think my mom was just happy that I wasn't complaining bitterly about being in a museum.  (Yes, I realize it was the Louvre, but in my defense, it was in fourth grade, and I had absolutely no interest in museums.  I'm still not a big fan of them, either...)

I remember reading Magyk by Angie Sage on a balcony overlooking the sea while in Italy, and The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall in my bedroom, in a nest made out of stuffed animals and bedding.  I remember sprawling in my backyard reading Only the Good Spy Young, by Ally Carter, and reading Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce for the first time while I was sailing.  

So yes.  After a long time of not really understanding what John Green meant, I finally do.  Books do belong to their readers.  Readers interpret the stories the way that they see fit, and attach their own memories to books.  At first, it’s just a book.  But then you read it, and become involved in the story.  You take it places, meet people with it in your hand, get it signed by authors you love.  No one will have the exact same story attached to a specific book as you do.  Your story is unique.  And whenever you see the title of that book, you'll remember where you first read it, or your favorite place that you've taken it, or just some memory of reading it.  Books are special.

The Dandy Lioness

{P.S.  Is the spacing weird, or is that just my computer?  It's been acting up recently, so I have no idea.}


  1. I agree completely. I have memories attached to each book I own, memories of when I acquired it and memories of the time I've spent reading it.

    I love this post. It's very eloquently phrased. :)

    (The spacing looks normal to me.)

  2. I have a lot of memories attached to different books, too. I can usually tell you where and how I got a book along with where I've read it. :)

  3. Alright. Finally replying to comments, because I'm totally lazy and haven't done it yet.

    @Mika: Definitely! The books themselves just tell you a story, not the words inside, but the book, its cover and the font and the pages.

    @Eagle: Oh, yeah, me too. I can often tell you why I got it, where I got it, when I got it, and where I read it. :)