I really, really like a lot of books. But I don’t fall in love too often.
Sometimes the relationship starts off in a friendly, comfortable, I-can-put-you-down-but-I’m-excited-to-see-you-again kind of way. As we progress, whenever I open the covers, I forget myself but also paradoxically feel that I’m becoming deeper, truer me. It’s all-encompassing and empowering. We’re better together, the book and I.
I can tell I’m truly smitten when I make excuses to spend more time together. Every meal, every free minute, I seek it out. I’m head-over-heels. And then I know I’m deeply, truly in love when I start worrying about when it will end. I still read during every possible moment, but slowly… slowly, so I appreciate each page.
The last book I fell in love with was The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Friends had predicted I’d enjoy it, and I’ve appreciated everything else I’ve read by the author. We started off with a lot of positive things going for us– common interests, a shared past. I admit, I was also physically attracted to it’s gorgeous dark-edged pages. I’d bought myself a hardcover when the book first came out, but I didn’t actually get around to reading until I bought myself a paperback to mark up for leading discussion for our in-store book group. I think in some ways I’d been afraid to commit and really afraid of being disappointed.
The first pages were intriguing. In the beginning I was confused, but quickly I was all-in, falling headlong in this mysterious world. As romantic love makes the world seem new again, this book made me read with fresh eyes. Sentence structure, phrases, characters, and imagery startled me with their brilliance. I had to finish reading before our book club night, but if I hadn’t had a fixed deadline, it’s possible I might not have finished; I didn’t want to come to the end of the characters’ journey. Before it was over, I already wished I could read it again for the first time.
I know I’ve found a lasting love when parts of the book come back to me days, weeks, and months later. Now, when my husband and I cross the Ballard Bridge on foot, we go single-file because of bicyclists, but because of Kazuo Ishiguro and The Buried Giant, I call out, like Beatrice, “Are you still there, Axl?” My husband (who read the book first and knew I’d love it) replies, in Axl’s words, “Still here, princess.” Quoting the book in everyday life makes it stay with me, like a warm hand to hold.
Another book my husband and I both love and reference is Catch-22. Is there any better way to sign off when you’re instant messaging on a business trip than with Yossarian-as-Tappman’s, “I yearn for you tragically?”
Have you fallen in love with a book? What first caught your eye? What stays with you? Do you have a special someone who understands how much you love it and loves it, too?
Tegan Tigani became a bookseller when she responded to a sign saying, “Booklover wanted, part-time.” That was almost exactly 18 years ago this week. She finds most of the books she falls in love with at Queen Anne Book Company.