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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Pleasures of Research

Another post in praise of physical books.

I recently got a borrower's card at the university library in order to do research for the next historical (and also find out more tidbits about SNKL). What an exciting day! I have to assume the experience was so ecstatic because it's been a long time since I was last in a high quality academic library. My husband was with me, observing at a distance, so I didn't lose my head entirely and spend all day there or attempt to cover myself up with a book tower or hit myself over the head with the larger volumes so as to get their wisdom by osmosis. I also needed him to rein me in because there's a limit to how many books a non-student can check out, so thanks, hon.

I made it out of there with two freshly printed books of history essays and two of three volumes of the book pictured above. The three volume set was printed in the 1970's, and I've fallen in love with it! It has that inimitable library smell I can never describe because it's the fragrance of everything lovable you can only find in a library. And the odor is aggressive, reaching out for your nose like a bunch of ripe peaches when you first open the bag.

Many have waxed poetic about the perfumes of old books, but these books are a complete five-sense experience. (Well, four: I haven't tasted one.) The glossy burgundy-colored leather of the cover has dried out in such a way as to make a hollow sound when you tap it. The thick pages have a soft feel from years of use and their yellowed edges don't lack a few unidentified stains. They make their own sound when turned, and then the relaxed spine mercifully stays open, making reading that much easier. Reading a book like this is another experience entirely from reading a new one, which is in another realm again from an ebook.

Aside from all that, these books are crammed so full of the information I've been looking for since I started writing SNKL. Did you know research for a non-erotica book could be so sensual? I didn't!