Monday, 15 September 2014

The Elements of a Tome

Tomes are magical, really. You take a book from your shelf or your table, open it, dive yourselves into the words and with the power of imagination, you’re transported to a whole new place. Your souls and hearts and minds are now resided in a disparate world but you and your physical selves are still here. It’s like being in two places in one time, connected yet separated by the thin veils of papery leaves.

While reading is certainly an experience for the mind, how about the other small things that we barely notice while reading books? How about the feelings of having the tip of your fingers caressing the pages of your book? The smooth sheets beckon your fingers to nimbly flip it, so that you won’t do any damages to the paper. Paper is such a fragile element, but its rather short permanence makes it much more valuable.

The rustling sounds that the pages of paper make as you turn them one by one, aurally inviting as you continue your adventure in words. The sounds are like music. The pace changes, always, depending on how fast or how slow you read a book. When you get excited, suspenseful, anxious, the sound comes like a fast flowing tempo. When you savour the most intimate moments, the part where the characters are at their most vulnerable, damaged state, the part where emotions are abound, the rhythm of the paper slows down.

Have you ever smelled your books? I just love the smell of new books, old books… okay maybe books of all ages. You just can’t get enough of it. The smell of books is caused by a natural alcohol found in woods that is known as ‘lignin’. Old books will generally have a sweet wonderful scent of faint vanilla and grass. Lignin is the natural aroma of woods, the natural aroma of books. You can’t get any better than that and it is aptly fitted to the fact that books are the food for your soul.

As books grow old, the pages started to yellow, and you may notice the blots and patches of rusty colours here and there. We call those patches ‘foxing stains’. On the downside, it is a sign that the books are deteriorating, a normal process, yes, but certainly not a welcomed one. In a way, however, I love seeing those marks. It shows that the books are growing old, just like how we are getting older and older every single day. I’ll make sure that my books will stay with me as long as I live.

Books are my treasures. The words inspire, the stories enthrall, the bound pages held either by threads or glue are the guardians of our imagination. For eons, books have worked for us, for eons to come, they shall stay that way.