Monday, April 08, 2013

Between Books

It's a phrase I've heard often enough that when I finally stopped to think about it, I was sort of puzzled why I hadn't fallen in love with it earlier. It's an innocent evasion, fueled maybe by shame, maybe by shy honesty. Sometimes a reader will use it to prompt suggestions from a friend or neighbor. Sometimes a bookseller might use it to dodge the question.

I'm sort of between books right now...

Using the same gesture that we use to soften the reality of unemployment, it distracts with its tinge of spiritual journey. But when I first heard it for what it truly was, I was blown away by it. I pictured comically-large, Greek deity-like phantoms --- the books that we are between. The half-finished and abandoned Anna Karenina, a silent specter over the reader. The last biography you finished, its subject --- be it Cleopatra or Coco Chanel --- follows you like a handmaiden.

As a reader, you are between that book, that last book or that unfinished novel, and every other book you have yet to read. And as both a book lover and bookseller, I notice how physically true it is that I am always between books. I am between books on their way to their shelves, between books on their way to their readers, between books waiting on hold for their readers. I drink my coffee in the stacks between books, and I eat my lunch in the break room, between pages of my book.

In the evenings when I return home, I sleep between books! The books on my small bookshelf and the ones on my nightstand; the half-started book of poems, the advanced copy of a novella and my half-incorrect, scratched out and written-over book of crossword puzzles under my bed. I truly live between my books.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


1 comment:

  1. A life-long condition clearly summarized. Well done, Sarina.


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