Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Simple Pleasure

My fellow blogger Tia (see Blogs of Interest in sidebar) suggested posting about simple pleasures each weekend.

For me, one of the simplest yet most profound pleasures is the opening of a book. The book I am currently reading is one of a sort that gives me true pleasure: an old book. An 1856 copy of Charlotte Bronte's The Professor, checked out earlier this month from the University of San Diego library.

Just the cover itself gives pleasure. The weathered brownish-burgundy cloth cover with faint gold lettering on the spine promises good things in store, namely peace and escape. The musty dusty old book smell -- who can describe it? It seems to be a nearly human scent, as if the fragrance of every single person who held this book in his/her hands is imprinted within its yellowed pages. As if the scent of every single room which has played host to this book has left a trace of its odor within the well-worn covers.

The pages are far past the formal white stiffness of a new book, are past the supple flexibility of a well-used book, and has now become aged, slightly yellowish-brown especially around the edges. These pages are friendly, though, even if a bit arthritic, like an old woman who's known to be a "character," and remains "sharp as a tack" but a bit crotchety in her elderly ways. The pages turn reluctantly; the type is somewhat faded, again like an old woman who was a beauty "in her day;" however, if one looks deeply into her aged face, one can see the belle of the ball beneath the wrinkles. That's what this book is like.

So as the plot leads me to northern England and now to Belgium, I breathe in the scent of age and the joy of use in this old book. Reading it is at once a simple and a profound pleasure, one that delights me to no end.

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