Monday, June 5, 2023

The paperbacks are broken and faded, but are still precious

I have big bookcases full of lovely oversized hardbacks - gorgeous art books that are so heavy they could kill a man, collected editions of great works, embossed beauties and the finest big novels.

But for a long, long time, my bookcases were full of cheap mass-market paperbacks. They gradually got pushed out by all the prettier editions, but they were all I could afford for years, and were a cheap and productive way to fill my young brain.

As physical objects, the small, mass-market paperbacks don't last - their spines crack and they fade and they look like shit after a decade or so, especially if they're actually read. 

And as I slowly got nicer and nicer books to show off to the world on my shelves - I judge everybody by their bookcases and am an utter fucking snob about it, so you bet I put a lot of thought into how much of my literary arse I'm showing -  the paperbacks got shoved into boxes, disappearing down the back of cupboards, filling space in banana boxes that were otherwise stuffed full of Marvel comics.

I've recently started pulling them together and cataloging them a bit better to see what I actually have, and realised I still loved these faded little fuckers as much as the highest-price book on any shelves.

I love the old Fighting Fantasies and all the other chances to choose your own adventure; I'm delighted by how many Michael Moorcock and Phillip Jose Farmer I actually have; and I do have a lot more tight collections of gags from Mad Magazine than I thought.

I've always known where my Jack Yeovil and Douglas Adams books are, but I've also found I still have a lot of the Stephen Kings that I bought when I went through the inevitable King as a 16-year-old, and I still feel the fear when I see the purple cover for Pet Semetary.

I love the large amount of movie adaptions that I ended up buying - the best are the first Star Wars (with all the blood and bone floating in zero-g) and the Robocop adaption - and I love that I've still got the first few Wild Cards. I love all the Clive Barker and all the Kurt Vonnegut and all the Joe R Lansdale; and most of the Carl Hiaasen and most of the Stephen Hunter.

The vast majority of them came from second hand bookstores, where you can always find a few minor masterpieces for less than $5, and after shuttling them around my various homes and cities for years, they're  all scuffed and ripped up, so wouldn't ever be able to sell them, 

I've never going to sell them anyway, they're as precious to me now as ever. Even if they're not on the most obvious shelves, they're always in my literary heart.

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