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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Anticipation, Possession, Consumption

The Glory of a New Book

There is nothing in life more thrilling than the acquisition of a brand new book. Ok, that might be a stretch. I have some 200-year-old books that make me go gaga, but then again, I am a rabid reader and love to collect all things bookish, ebooks included.

But waiting for the release of a new book can be agony, both for the author and for the reader. I know I've planned book purchases months in advance for a book I might have only read a short blurb for. When you read perhaps the first one or two chapters, six months in advance of release, that is a whole new level of reader agony.

Some authors are an auto buy for me, but I love to find debut authors or simply new-for-me authors. There are so many well told stories out there that it’s sometimes hard to decide what to read first. While I have never particularly compared myself to other readers, (it doesn’t really help to know just how obsessed you are) I find myself anxious for the book to be listed for presale. I've been known to scour bookshops for missed past titles and, since the internet is so full of bookish information, I now scour author websites, plundering for any hint of teaser content.

Sigh. There really is no hope for me.

On the day the book arrives, either by my fast swoop into the bookshop or the delightful postie who brings goodies to my door, my nerves are abuzz. But it is not just having the story that thrills me. Posted packages are carefully opened and the book examined for inexcusable damage. This is a BOOK after all, and the postal service has no right to mishandle them.

Next, and I haven’t succumbed to the urge to wear the white gloves yet, the cover image is examined. The font, the hero (bare-chested always appeals), the heroine (striving not to hate how perfectly pretty she appears), the delicate art of cover background and the finish; matte or glossy (my preference is glossy). Next the back cover blurb – is it the same blurb that prompted me to buy the book? Sometimes they're different. Authors often have more than one. And do not forget the spine. Will I need to turn my head to read the title once the book sits on my shelf?

Stop - I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to read it before I decide whom it sits beside and I can't start just yet!

The moment must be right. The kids are about to come home, and I must be a good mother and listen to their school woes, all the while trying to ignore the book that holds pride of place at my favourite spot to read. Eventually the children drift away to their own amusements and I can drag out my largest coffee cup (you know: the one that holds enough liquid for two) and end my suffering.

While waiting for the kettle to boil I consider what I might be able to feed the family without taking too much time away from the book. Emergency rations of canned chicken soup and toast takes no time at all, I can still read and heat as long as I keep the book clear of any soup splatter. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve done that heaps of nights. I know, I know, bad Heather!

Superficial decisions made, hot coffee sitting beside my chair, I get comfortable and pick up my latest obsession. As I open the first page, I breathe a vast sigh of relief. I know you're laughing at me, but don’t expect me to hear. I'm in the authors world for the rest of the night – possibly till the last page is turned. I might raise my head if the world was ending but, short of that, there is no way I'm listening to anything except the authors voice!


  1. Ahhh I long for the moment I get to read without interruption (gasp!) from my 3yo...

  2. Blushing here from someone who recently set the kitchen on fire... Yes, I agree, a good book is a treasure that makes us ignore everything else. Luckily, 3/4 of my children feel the same way, so they understand when Mom is a little distracted. And the other one? He's too busy blasting us with the electric guitar to notice we're lost in our "story."

  3. I am one of those readers that can become so immersed in the world an author has created that everything else ceases to exist. I'll forget to eat, forget to sleep - forget about everything that isn't involved in the book I'm reading. I'm not like that with EVERY book I read, but with an awful lot of them. These days, since I know I can be that way, I try to limit myself to a certain number of chapters or pages a night. It doesn't always work. LOL. But if I allow myself to read like that, I'll never get my own writing done. I'll just spend the rest of my life reading.

  4. It's been awile since I've experienced that kind of total immersion you speak of. I've been searching for a new author lately who can do that. I have my favorites of course, but I'm looking for something different. Haven't quite found what I'm looking for yet. Excellent post Heather, you've just made want to go buy a new book lol. So much for getting some writing done today lol. Looks like I am off to the store!

  5. Great post, Heather! You make me long for the days when I was able to just lay on the couch all day and read. Once I started writing 3 years ago, that ceased to happen. Now, the only time I get to really read is on the rare occasion that my baby girl wakes in the middle of the night. Once I get her back to sleep, I stay awake to make sure she's REALLY asleep...that's when I read. LOL! Though the book I'm currently reading is staring me in the face right now and I'm contemplating saying "To hell with everything else!"

  6. Heather - I am embarrassed to admit that I maybe guilty of one or two of these things myself. But I'll never admit which ones. :)

  7. Candyland ... been there too. It will happen.

    Gail ... you've not been sharing enough. You set fire to the kitchen? LOL My eldest son 16 has only just learnt to appreciate books - there might be hope for the guitar player son. Fingers crossed.

    Catherine - I find I cant restrict myself once I get the book, so to compensate I'm buying less often but that 'to be purchased list' is really starting to grow. LOL

    Melissa - let me know what you pick up. I'm always looking for new authors to try.

    Jerrica - Sleep is more important for you than reading ATM Dont stay up too late. :o)

    Lydia - I wrote the draft of this post thinking about how excited I'd be when my copy of A Certain Wolfish Charm arrived. I had to change the ending last night cause my copy hadn't come. But squeeeeeeeeeee ... I have it now. Off reading!

  8. I love to lose myself in a book. Tomato soup made with milk and grilled cheese is a quick dinner and my kids think it's a treat. Just an idea for those days you don't want to pull yourself away from a great story. :)