Friday, September 02, 2005

[Essay] Confessions of a Bibliophile

One might think that a bibliophile is merely concerned with books. And to a certain extent, a good number of bibliophiles are only concerned with their one true love. For my part though, I remember that it’s not the book that I’m in love with, but in the art of reading. And there actually many factors involved in reading.

Take for example furniture. Some of you might be surprised that someone such as I, out of touch with the world, would be concerned with something so practical. But I do think furniture should be every bibliophile’s concern, unless they love to read books while standing up.

What’s your reading habit? Personally, I love to slouch in a couch or in a bed. Not just any bed though, it should have a headrest of some sort. Pillows would be nice as well. They’re ideal and comfortable places for me, despite what some psychologists might claim (that is, such places will make you feel drowsy because it’s where you sleep). Failing that, a sturdy, wide chair would do. Obviously, chairs come in all sizes and shapes, which is why furniture becomes a concern for me.

Not everyone’s a couch or chair addict though. Some prefer to read on a table. And that’s fine, especially if you’re the type that highlights passages or jots down quotes from their favorite books. I’m sure a lot of bibliophiles rely on different kinds of tables, whether it’s the roughness of it, the size (the perfect height for example), or simply the design (should it be slanted or flat?).

Aside from furniture, there’s room design. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of that would be lighting. Where is the light centered? Personally, I don’t like reading by lamp stands. They cast shadows which obscure my reading. Color also plays an important role. I love fluorescent white. Anything else is a hindrance. One of my professors though said that a certain yellowish paper looks good on yellow light. So reading with a certain ambience also plays a significant factor.

How about the amount of noise? Some people love “background” music, whether it’s mellow tones to ear-splitting vocals. Or perhaps it’s the chirping of crickets, the tweeting of birds. Or the sounds of morning traffic, the trademarks of every metropolis. I love the silence, where there’s nothing to distract me and I can be alone with my thoughts.

Lastly, there’s food and drink. Some people mix eating with reading. I tend to do that, although I prefer finger food that’s not messy: reading with your right, eating with your left. Anything that requires a spoon is out of the question. But I’ve heard of people who have a glass of wine to begin their reading rituals, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others have a certain food fetish.

A bibliophile is not just a connoisseur of books. He or she must balance out all these other factors, for the ideal reading experience is seldom an isolated incident. Not only do I want a good book to read, I want the finer things in life as well that will augment my reading experience.

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