Have you ever fallen in love with a book? I know, some of you might have, but I don’t mean falling in love with the author or what he said, falling in love with the actual book, that inanimate object. It pains me to say that its ‘inanimate’ but for the sake of explaining myself, I have to.
This is the story of how I fell in love with the book ‘The Screwtape Letters‘ by C. S. Lewis. The concept of the book intrigued me, it is the correspondence between Screwtape, an experienced devil and his nephew Wormwood, a young tempter at the beginning of his demonic career. So, I ordered the book online, when I opened that package and saw the embossed letters on the cover of the book; I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight but it flicked a switch inside me. They say you should not judge a book by its cover but it was the cover that started the spiral into my obsession with the book.
When I say obsession, I’m not exaggerating. I go to sleep with it beside my pillow, it has to be at the top of the book pile on my table, I’ve started using it as a wallet, I take it to my driving classes, it is appearing in my dreams! I was actually reading another book when this book arrived but sweet lord! The illustrations, they just won’t let me get on with the other book! Did I tell you about the illustrations? Beautiful! Just beautiful! This edition of the book was illustrated by William Papas and dear god, he has done a stunning job!
This is not my first obsession, before this I was obsessed with another book, ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahnuik. I would read that book every other time I finish some other book, I started remembering the lines before I read them. I had to give it away to a friend as a gift to get over it. But this time I think it is much worse. The smell of the paper, the crisp sound when you turn the pages and the illustrations, they don’t let me sleep at night.
A couple of days ago I saw a TED talk by Chip Kidd, in which he talks about the level of insight and creativity which he puts into designing the covers of books, but you have to be attentive to detail in order to notice any of it. This set off my detail-preceptor and the devil is in the details, literally! This book is actually a collection of letters from a senior demon as I mentioned earlier, the level of detail in the book is just amazing. We can see in the illustration that the devil is writing with a quill and a ink bottle so whenever he is signing his name or addressing his nephew, there is a ink blot here and there, spill a couple of times. This is just one of the many seductive capabilities of the book that enticed me.
I also have a kindle which I very much like but whatever technology brings to us the physical feel of a book is impossible to emulate if you ask me, hardcover paper books will always rule the hearts and minds of the reader. Still, this worries me sometimes, the trees you know…