(Catherine Cheek’s initial process of putting together books.)
Part of the increasingly insane spiral of conversation occurring downriver included a reminiscence of mine concerning a book/reading experience:
One of my best reading experiences was buying a little book with a white cover in Left Bank Books in Seattle. It had been misplaced in the magazine section. It had no title. It had no author name. It had no information about what press had published it. It existed totally by and of itself. I could come to no conclusions about it contextually except through the first word, and then the second, and then the thirdâ€“the first sentence, the second sentence, the third sentence. And so on. It was a very good book about thought crime. If it had come to me in a particular section of the bookstore with all of the accoutrements of context, would I have liked it as much? Would I have given it a chance?â€¦
Which reminded me of my The Physicality of Books feature from Fantastic Metropolis, which included answers from Michael Chabon, K.J. Bishop, Jonathan Carroll, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, and dozens of others. I had asked five questions there:
1. What do you like about the book as physical object?
2. Do you have any rituals or procedures you go through after acquiring a new (or used) book? (Some writers indicate they bite or smell books.)
3. Is it necessary for books to exist as physical objects in our increasingly electronic world? If so, why?
4. What recent examples stand out for you as exemplar of well-designed, well-made books?
5. Do you have any memory connected to books that you would like to share?
I’ve been working on a book off and on incorporating the Fantastic Metropolis material. The working title is Love Drunk Book Heads.
Because I’m always curious, the question I’m asking here is:
Can you describe one or two of your most unusual, strange, or revelatory book experiences, either in the finding/buying of a book or the reading of it?
Some of this material may be incorporated into the book (with your permission, of course).