Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Sign of a Well-Read Book

Scott D. Parker

Do you ever read your books this way?

My grandfather used to hold his books that way. I remember, even as a boy, cringing at bending the cover all the way around so that he would be able to read just a single page. (It is one of the primary reasons I enjoy reading on my Paperwhite so much.) After awhile, his books—mostly westerns—would end up this way.

Last week, I was in Galveston and I always visit the Galveston Book Shop. I checked the western section and ended up buying HIGH LONESOME by Louis L’amour (as a direct result of reading James Reasoner’s review). It was then I actually took notice of something. Many of the older westerns—i.e., the slim volumes from the 1960s and before—had the same slant to the spine. That meant my grandfather wasn’t the only one who held his westerns that way.

Nowadays, with our thick tomes, even in paperbacks, holding a book that way is almost impossible. And many of us don’t like to do that either. It ruins the shelf appeal I assume.

But there’s also something charming about seeing a stack of used paperbacks in this condition. It reminds me about the consumer quality of cheap paperbacks. They were just a few steps away from pulp magazines. They were one form of entertainment, likely meant to be read, then passed on to someone else or sold at a used bookstore. Not like today when most of us like to have that bookshelf lined with books.

When I open my “new” copy of HIGH LONESOME and noticed the spine had that slant, I actually curled the cover all the way around and read like my grandfather.

I loved it.

Do y’all read paperbacks this way? Did you grandparents or parents?


Art Taylor said...

It would take willpower I simply don't have for me to turn a paperback this way, but I'll admit that I very much enjoyed your story here and do indeed appreciate that your grandfather and others were enjoying these books just as they were likely meant to be enjoyed (and yes, appreciate my kindle for the same reasons). Thanks for the great post!

Scott D. Parker said...

Art - thanks for reading. I admit that I don't do this with my own books--shelf appeal and all--but I annotate my books all the time with underlines or other various notes.

David Cranmer said...

Like Art, I enjoyed this post, Scott. Thanks for sharing. I hate to see books broken myself but have an older sister that bends them back and my mother use to do the same as well. That being said both of them loved books as much as I do despite their heathen ways.