I am a book nut. I keep buying the bloody things. I can’t help it. I just can’t see me ever really buying into the whole Kindle-type pretend book thing. I love the feel of a book, the design, the sense of anticipation before you open it and the pleasure of first flicking through it before you start reading it. Hell, I even like the smell of them. I was in a second-hand bookshop today (in Llangollen, North Wales) and my mate Josh pondered that it might be possible to ‘get high off book mould’. Perhaps this explains my obsession.
Anyway, just for the fun of it, I thought I’d post some regular – who knows, maybe even daily – blogs about some of my favourite books in my collection (initially). Not lengthy reviews, just short appreciations, something to give you a flavour of them – that’s if you’re not familar with them already, which you probably will be. Any views and comments regarding the books I highlight will be gratefully received.
When you regularly spend a certain amount of your income on books, and you love them for what they are – not just the all-important contents but also the design and heritage they have – it’s a real temptation to show them off. It’s that temptation I’m giving into now.
So, first off, ‘The Book of Dreams and Ghosts’ by Andrew Lang. This is a fairly recent purchase of mine; I wasn’t familiar with it before. It’s basically a general round-up of ghost-lore and well-worn tales of visions, precognition and dreams that came true. Lang, of course, was a pioneeering 19th century folklorist but I confess it was the book’s binding that attracted me. Gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve always loved art nouveau. (I confess the pic isn’t of my copy: for convenience I pinched it off a book-selling website, but mine’s identical and in equally bright condition). This is the ‘new edition’ of 1897, published by Longmans and Co: it was originally published a year or two before in a foolscap edition, I believe.
Most of the material in ‘Dreams and Ghosts’ is familiar enough. The less familiar stories have mainly come from the Society for Psychical Research files. I have fished out one interesting and fairly obscure example for Uncanny UK. You can read it at http://www.uncannyuk.com/626/taunton-ghost/
But I confess this is one of those examples where the cover excited me more than the contents, unrepentant old bibliophile that I am.