texture

I like the feel of a book in my hand; especially so if it’s hardcover. Having grown up reading mainly paperbacks, and lots of secondhand paperbacks at that, I didn’t put great stock in the touchy-feely arguments of reading. While hardcovers were nice and looked nice, mostly I’ve read paperbacks. In recent times, no longer being either a teenager nor an impoverished student, I have been buying more hardcovers. Of late, I have been removing the dustjackets altogether and reading the book naked, so to speak. I’m tempted to throw away the dustjackets altogether as I like the look of the books on the shelf sans dustjackets. There is something to be said for a finely crafted book, with good binding, nice paper, not to mention a slipcase. I do have some very nice editions of Tolkien in leather slipcases and printed on rice paper. Other hardcovers such as the Codex Seraphinianus are of a nice size and well printed.

Which brings us to The Folio Society. My dad joined several years ago and I inherited quite a few of his editions including the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Essays of Francis Bacon and several others. While in the UK recently I bought a few more including Burchfield’s The English Language and Frugoni’s Inventions of the Middle Ages. Many secondhand bookstores had them, seemingly new, for around 10-15 quid each. At the time the Oz $ was getting close to 50p so they were good bargains, whereas it’s around 39p now so they’re still good but of course I’d have to throw in postage as well. It is somewhat unsurprising that there is a group on LibraryThing devoted to them. Admittedly I am toying with the idea of joining the Society one of these days myself. I suspect when the right joining offer appears I’ll be in like flint. Already eyeing off Gribbons History of Western Science and Brooke’s The Rise and Fall of the Medieval Monastery.

1 thought on “texture”

  1. I’ve purchased books from the Folio Society from time to time, and I love them. A few years ago they did an anniversary edition of Joyce’s Ulysses. I’d been planning on re-reading it (for the 3rd time) in advance of a trip to Ireland, so I bought it, despite the expense and despite the fact that I’ve got at least two paperback copies around the house. I cleared the decks for a long weekend and dove in. I tend to write in my books, and I had no hesitation about writing and commenting in this one — using a good fountain pen. The feel of the book, the feel of the paper, the feel of my pen on the paper, the brilliant, lovely, funny, humane and tempestuous words — it was heavenly.

    When I got the book, it was one of a limited edition, identical to its fellows. Now it is unique, a beautiful artifact, and a testament to the engagement between one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers and one of his readers, 100 years later.

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