Neil Pasricha’s five awesome things about books
No. 5: When your friend returns your book and he or she actually read it.
Man, I’m a master of the Ghost Loan.
This is where I borrow someone’s favourite book and then promptly leave it on my shelf for months without touching it. Sure, I see it, I look at it, I think about it, I want to read it, but I just … don’t. And then I keep it for a while, thinking I’ll eventually get to it, but eventually I just admit defeat and return it unread, unfinished, unsatisfied.
It’s always a sad moment because that’s when your friend looks up at you with wide, eager eyes and asks, “So what did you think of my favourite book in the whole universe, the one I kindly lent you for months on end, depriving myself and other readers of its powerful words so you could enjoy them?”
That is true pain.
Course, that’s why it’s great returning a friend’s book after you actually read the thing. And hey, special props if you even liked it. Now you get to give it back with some extra dents, extra creases and share your thoughts with your pal.
Books are such personal pleasures of secret silent moments between you and the pages. They lift you up, drag you down, and stir emotions and memories deep in your bones. When you return a friend’s favourite book, it’s like you just got to share all those secret silent moments with them too.
No. 4: The smell of a library.
Come on in.
Pull open the wooden door with those giant, oversized handles that are smooth and worn down to a light brown finish. Drag your boots over the dirty green carpeted floor that bubbles up in the corners and splashes tiny dust clouds into shimmery orange sunbeams with every step. Feel the calm and comforting library quiet settle like a blanket over your body and your brain as you shuffle past the counters and make your way inside …
Massive atlases, worn-out hardcovers, and crinkly plastic-wrapped kids books fill rusty metal bookshelves and cover that overly lacquered table at the front – dented from that time someone smacked it with their wheelchair in 1988. Yellowed pages with pencil lines, cracked bindings and broken spines cover every corner of the place …
Feel our shared histories softly swirl together through old books and stamped checkout cards as you smile and soak up all the little library smells of …
No. 3: Finding good reading material in someone else’s bathroom.
Bathroom readers of the world, unite!
It doesn’t matter if it’s an old issue of Reader’s Digest on top of the tank, yesterday’s crinkly Globe and Mail on the floor or a dog-eared comic book sitting on the bathroom counter. Nope, all that matters is now we don’t have to read the back of the shampoo bottle over and over again.
Fellow bathroom reader, thank you for heeding the call, thank you for keeping magazines in the stall, and thank you for being so absoflushinglutely
No. 2: When you open a book to the exact page you were looking for.
You cracked the case.
Seriously, when you pop open that textbook, flip open the yellow pages or split the spine of that beach novel right to the spot you’re looking for, it’s a beautiful moment.
Suddenly you transform into a gloomy trenchcoat-wearing detective who solves the case just by glancing at the crime scene. Yes, the street’s been taped off, someone’s crying under a blanket on the curb, and the cops are filling out witness statements on their notepads.
That’s when you peel up in a navy blue squad car, calmly light up a cigarette and then stare with furrowed eyebrows at the surrounding buildings for a few minutes.
Then you calmly walk back to your cruiser, smile softly and roll your window down at the local police before screaming away down the wet roads.
No. 1: When you’re right near the end of the book.
You’ve been through so much together.
It seems like ages ago when you first cracked her open, flipped past the small-print mumbo jumbo and read that first sentence. Maybe you knew you’d like it or maybe you judged that first page harshly, playing hard to get, eyeing the others on the shelf, seeing if this book was really worth your time.
But then you got sucked in.
Characters grew and a few chapters ended with cliffhangers that kept you up much too late. You laughed as you flipped and flipped on a long flight, your eyes welled at the cottage or you cozied up through big scenes under an old blanket on the front porch.
When you’re right near the end of the book, you feel the anticipation pulsing. You’re sitting still in absolute perfect silence, but it’s amazing how your mind is racing, your heart is pumping and your ears tune out the world around you. Maybe you put the book down to go to the bathroom or grab a glass of water, trying to guess the ending just before you read it: Will she find her mother, will he admit how he feels, will Gryffindor win the House Cup?
Maybe you savour those last few pages, maybe you race right through them, or maybe anticipation gets the best of you and you flip right to the end. Either way, pretty soon you’re closing that book with a satisfying shut and adding it to the freshly read pile on your shelf.
Finishing a book makes you feel good.
You’re almost there.