When you buy a book, do you ever have to force a straight face when you go to pay for it because you can’t believe how cheaply it’s selling? I do this with every purchase, no matter the price. For the purposes of this musing let us take a fiction book – a good one, mind – for our example.
As a voracious reader, I spend a lot of my time in the world of other people’s imaginings, exploring creations of fertile minds and discovering the stories of unusual characters. The philosophies of eras and worlds, the inversions of physical laws, the deviousness of a certain antagonist, the philosophical musings of another mind are all exquisite. That’s even before you factor in that sentence you have to reread dozens of times simply for the majesty of its construction.
I weigh all of that up (and whatever else comes to mind) against the price I am paying for the physical representation of happiness and I find that I have a bargain every time. Now because I like the drama, it then becomes a game in my head, does the bookseller know what he/she is giving away for such a cheap price? Will it be read in my eyes that I have a bargain and suddenly the price will shoot up? I then spend a couple of minutes in a secluded part of the shop gurning away, trying to find a suitable poker face, which is quite difficult to achieve without the use of a mirror.
Once the transaction is complete and I have left the shop, my mask crumples into something akin to smugness and I can gaze disconcertingly through the window at the cashier knowing I have won the day and that when I open this book I’ll become some sort of deity. It’s not just me who is omnipotent, we all are and I can tell why as well.
Without really knowing it, the reader takes the words the author has created and moulds them into something more epic than the author can have ever envisioned, a unique conception forms setting it apart from any other copy of the book because it is yours. It is your gathered experience that is ingrained eternally into your book, which explains why we are so obsessed over ‘our’ copy of a book which is never the same when replaced by a different cover for example.leant out or damaged.
We change worlds, we add layers, sounds, smells and textures to every street, we dare to ask the questions like, what is behind that door that is mentioned in passing and we go further and make up our own stories about that door and where is leads. Invisible tiers are added to the source material, never noticed or conceived of by any but ourselves (which I always find a great shame)…it is an incredibly personal place for us to hide in as it really is ours, in all but royalties.
Following on logically it all starts to get a bit metaphysical, how much of the authors creation is actually their own, their inspirations have presumably been taken from other places. How much of myself have I projected onto the story, is the author highly rated because they are genuinely that good or perhaps it is my own experiences that has made me appreciate the book more. That would explain why reviewing a book is such a tricky business when opinions can be extremely divisive between peers.
I don’t think any of it matters though, aside from being fun to ponder on. Each story adds a certain something to my view of the world and as such makes me consider things in a different way. Whether it is the plight of people in certain situations or parts of the world or just makes me look at my own part of the world differently. Usually in a more positive light which is odd as where I live is a bit of a dive so perhaps the collective way is the best.
it is what it is but the mind is a fertile place and let’s be honest if any book allows us to use our imagination then we get plenty more out of it than the small price we pay for it. We take the world/place/era and we infuse it with all of our interpretations that we have taken in before from other books, films, photos, etc and make it something more. Next time you go shopping remember to take a mirror because all of a sudden these prices are looking a lot better.