The Secret Life of Books: Why They Mean More Than Words

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Title: The Secret Life of Books:Why They Mean More than Words

Writer: Tom Mole

Publishing House: Elliott & Thompson

Date of Publication: October 29th 2020  (first published September 19th 2019)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Books are part of how we understand ourselves. They shape our identities, even before we can read them. They accompany us throughout our lives. […] They get tangled up in our relationships with parents, siblings, classmates, teachers, friends, lovers and children. They are part of how groups of people, and even nations, imagine and represent themselves. Books become meaningful objects in all sorts of ways: treasured possessions, talismans, bearers of significance. This book is about how that happens.’’

There are readers who desire their books to look as immaculate as fresh snow. Others, like yours truly, want them to look lived in, with dog-eared pages and scribbles in the margins. We keep them in our bookcases as tokens of our personality, our knowledge, our convictions. We refuse to obey the rule of common sense and we accumulate them by the dozen, ending up with stacks scattered all over because free space is just an illusion. We fall in love with characters and storylines. Our first journey ‘’abroad’’ probably took place through an exciting book.

We meet heroes and villains, people of the past who shaped our present. We find a way to escape from dark times and personal instability and insecurity. We became friends (and lovers…) with someone who shares our passion for the same books, we fight and refuse to ever speak again to the ones who offend our book choices. We marvel when we find a book with uncut pages, a glimpse into a world beyond our reach. We become as inquisitive as it gets when we visit a house with an impressive (or not) bookcase, our eyes and necks straining to browse through the titles.

We are the ones who can’t get enough of bookish gifts. We are tormented by the question ‘’what will happen to my books after I am gone.’’ We are terrified by the prospect that our children may not worship on the altar of Literature. We are the ones who delight in reading the phone book. Literally. We are the ones who smile at the mere thought of the word ‘’book.’’ We are the ones who are granted a second and a third and a fourth life through the written word.

Is this the finest ‘’book-about-books’’ I’ve ever read? The answer is a loud, triumphant YES!

Many thanks to Alison Menzies and Elliott & Thompson for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.