Do you ever start a book and know right away that you don’t want it to end?
I felt that way recently when I began reading The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett. It’s quite a dichotomy when the book is a page turner yet you hate seeing those last pages approaching.
The Bookman’s Tale, though, doesn’t start out as a page turner. Lovett didn’t follow “the big bang” theory when he wrote his first pages. Rather, he eases into what becomes a mystery that takes place in four different time periods.
But this is also a story for book lovers. And I mean lovers of print books. Books with beautiful bindings, flourishes, and dark type set against pages of cream or white that are lovingly turned by hand.
The main character of The Bookman’s Tale is an antiquarian bookseller, and as a college student he finds his passion for books when he stumbles into a job at the university library’s Special Collections department. There he learns to repair books—sometimes hundreds of years old. I found the passages describing the repairs fascinating. In the parts of the story that take place in earlier centuries, Lovett describes the actual making of a book.
These passages, the mystery the main character tries to solve, and the different time periods make this a story to savor.
The Bookman’s Tale also reminds me why I love “real” books as much as I do. Hey, I have nothing against eBooks, but as the author says of himself in his dedication, I have an “incurable bibliomania.”
With eBooks becoming so prominent, how do you feel about print books?