Books are objective items, but reading is a subjective human activity. Subjective, not intersubjective. Reading can’t be shared. Unless the text is recited, in which case it’s not a reading anymore, but a performance. Subjective as well, intimate too, but altogether different from the act of reading, which must remain solitary, reflexive, explorative of one’s own for intérieur.
I like those books whose covers are not covered with pictures and figurative imagery. I like typographical covers, geometric at best. Author’s name, title, blankness. Like the first books printed during the Renaissance.
I like wide margins and boxed pages. A book respects its reader insofar as it creates the space, physical space, for the text to enter into dialogue with the reader. That’s where the text is born again, in the margins.
I like primitive type and minimal punctuation. The page is to be inhabited, but the reader must inhabit the reading space with scarce interference.
I like ambiguous narratives, which are not easily identifiable. History, fiction, fact, autofiction, autobiography. Texts should attract by their own merit, without external help. We enter into texts on our own, and the relationship between the reader and the book is that of two travellers sitting down at a table in the middle of the night, not knowing each other and yet breaking bread together.
I like books which ask for a second reading, even a third. And when a subsequent engagement happens, it feels like a first – the same sense of awe and discovery. Every act of reading, even re-reading, is an adventure, adventurus, that which is yet to come, namely a question mark in the middle of a misty meadow.
Finally, I like paratax. Short sentences are like a clean headshot fired by a meticulous assassin. Subordinate clauses subordinate and are subservient. Relatives are relative. The galloping juxtaposition leaves the reader panting, stupefied.
There are some books I’ve read more times than I can count. They are my version of comfort food.