My compelling exploration of Biblio in its entirety:
I believe if we’re not actively encouraging a love of reading in our children, we’re enforcing a subtle ban.
The Bibliophile —Book lover—
We live for books. Umberto Eco
Some people read cereal boxes, encyclopedia entries, shampoo bottles, recipes, discographies, filmographies, and nearly every genre of recorded fiction and nonfiction imaginable. Old books, new books, hardback or paper. They read novels and the specs of engineering and mechanical marvels such as the Golden Gate Bridge or the amazing steam engines that once pulled mile-long locomotives or powered industrial sized manufacturing plants. Some don’t take notes on file cards as those with an insatiable thirst for knowledge might do, or scribble in the margins creating a missive to revisit later or highlight interesting facts and ideas or dog-ear favorite pages. Instead, they let the words lounge in the perch of their mind before the infused essence slowly trickles into their hands then down through the very fingers actively underscoring words on the page, leaving behind the fullness of one who’s been intimately involved with the marriage of knowledge and wonder and was able to set it free.
Every day, people carry remnants of all they’ve read and what they’ve forgotten along with them wherever they go, the aggregate of all they’ve read a tender and solid part of them. In a strange twist of imagination, they are also a part of everything they’ve ever read. Not that they are the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, but having read about it, having run their fingers over the 10 point pica, the descriptors becoming blood-kin or ink-siblings, they have a relationship of respect with it, a deep connection to it and should they place their hand upon the great span over the bay, surely a spark of recognition would trill their arm.
To nearly every conversation which readers such as these have with people, they can invariably add the words, “Like in the book…” These book lovers are known as bibliophiles. Being a booklover is difficult to describe to someone who has never lived it for themselves. Perhaps what makes the experience altogether magical is the allusionary description, or maybe it’s a literary love affair because of a soul-deep kinship with character, condition, or culture. Whatever the case, it can be difficult if not seemingly impossible to explain the love of reading to someone who has not experienced it, especially if they hate reading, which is said much more often than book lovers care to hear and is a phrase which makes writers break out in hives.
The Logophile —Word lover—
Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation, they deepen and widen and expand our sense of life; they feed the soul. Anne Lamott, “Bird by Bird.”
Writers are up against great obstacles in trying to get to their readers. Flashy screens, beeping “in”-boxes, and easily digested two-hundred word news blurbs as they swipe left and right, all vie for the attention of current and future book readers. The competition for the reader’s attention is electric, but logophiles and bibliophiles alike have a deep desire for all to know the kinship, the blood relationship, of ink, be it virtual or tactile.
Book lovers the world over have been known to spend hours searching store shelves for a specific title or a general idea that grabs onto their imagination and won’t let go. They are dedicated browsers at used bookstores, new bookstores, thrift stores, libraries, and e-book retailers all over the world. Though their walls at home may be supporting shelves stacked and weighted past safe load-bearing specifications, the hunt in the paper (or digital) jungle goes on and on.
How do they know when they’ve found the book they need?
The rush. The bibliophiles browsing bookshelves are often in it for the rush. Not the hurried, but the sublime. Much like gold miners who dig through thick overburden to uncover the gold rich gravel underneath, the book lover will browse beyond rational human endurance until maybe they see a light blue cover with a splash of burgundy on the spine and get a tingle on the back of their neck. Upon lifting the book from the shelf, where it’s perhaps been leaning sideways for some time, they read the end flap to find a story of a war hero’s painful homecoming to an empty house, or a tale of a marathoner’s triumphant race against cancer, or how Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla were involved in a convoluted and sometimes much-heated partnership/rivalry/three-way business relationship. The tingle becomes more powerful, gains momentum and travels down their spine, racing to knock against the backs of their knees, and the reader makes an effort to steady themselves against their failing balance.
That reaction, or one similar, is what writers dream their readers have when picking up a book they’ve written.
It is most likely that writers began their logophile life first as bibliophiles and have experienced endless joys of reader-word connections from that point of view. Also likely is that the reader who one day picked up a pen to write a poem for a class at school, or perhaps a note in their diary, was shocked to experience a sensation at the back of their throat very similar to the reading sensation, yet contrary. The location was different. The sensation was stronger and subtler, alive and still. Hiding behind corners, lurking in secret chambers and peeking from dark shadows. Forever present then and always, it was awakened by the sound of a pen scratching across paper.
The obsession of the writer began with the search for the right word. The word announcing itself with the thunder of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or the grit of a cat’s tongue waking them from sleep. They add and add and add to that word and the next like a bull rider at the rodeo until not one more second, not one more letter could be coaxed from the mysterious hidden places, fingers racing over the keyboard, the writer’s growling stomach long neglected, and their throat tight with thirst.
Spent, staring with wonder at the words on the computer screen pulsing with life, the writer is elated and hopeful that one day a reader will know the excitement, the utter joy he or she felt while chasing after those words. The dedication it took to throw open the shutters and draw them from the back corners and deep chambers, the light of hope exposing everything that lay in the dark shadows.
The Bibliopole —Buyer/seller of books, especially rare ones—
And you read your Emily Dickinson, And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with book markers That measure what we’ve lost.
Simon and Garfunkel, “The Dangling Conversation.”
Ideas, drama, information, instructions, and the like can all be found in places other than inside the pages of books, but nothing is experienced in the same way as books are. Every time the reader opens one, then turns first one page, then another, head bent in rapt posture, there’s a good chance they’ll find something nothing else offers; themselves. There is a phrase which ascertains that the reader has their head in a book when enthralled in such a way, but maybe, just maybe the book is in their head. Whether traveling to different worlds, a foreign country or a fantastical one, learning the role of floor space when decorating the living room, or finding out what happened when God gave the people the king they’d demanded, the turning of the pages or the swiping left on the e-reader signify a rapture unparalleled.
Readers have found books they never knew existed while browsing book stores. Have discovered ideas they never thought to think or ever saw put into words before. Readers have run across tomes that put their own thoughts into plain language for them and gained serendipitous knowledge. To run their hand along the spines, to open them up and breathe the scent of the inky pages, and to run their fingers across the name of the genius who brought characters, imagined and real, to life is one of the pleasures of book browsing all made possible by the bookseller, a person who has most likely read more material than anyone who has ever entered through the book shop’s doors.
The curator of the bookshop has probably at least touched, if not actually read from, every one of the thousands of books on the shelves. This trusted keeper of words also knows how to recommend the book most likely to attract the attention of almost any reader. The keeper of the books sees their function as a feeder of souls and therefore sees a book as a table set for a savory feast with all the hors d’oeuvres and entrees anyone could possibly need all served up with relish and flamboyant flair. Book sellers know that anyone can unexpectedly fall in love with a book. From babies who turn the hard pages of board books about cute puppies to people in their 90’s bent contentedly over the large print book of the month, no one is immune to the spark, the connection, the bond, that can unexpectedly peak their interest. From Dr. Seuss to Charlotte Bronte’, to J.R.R Tolkien, the possibilities are as diverse as people themselves. The book written by an impassioned writer who hopes to touch someone with kindness and inspiration is deeply indebted to the bibliopole, the Golden Gate Bridge between writer and reader, who knows when the right connection between person and tome are made by the trill of recognition trebling along his arm.