The Business of Loving

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fin's a new book person. He loves the smell of them, the shiny spines in well-ordered rows. He could spend several happy hours browsing the shelves of a good bookshop and never get bored. Second-hand things - books, clothes, anything textile - give him the willies.

I, on the other hand, am more of an old book person. I find new books sterile, their scent vaguely chemical. I'll take a library over a bookshop any day of the week. For me, nothing beats the weight of an old book in my hands, heavy with dust and nostalgia. Whose hands have turned these pages? Where were they sitting, what were they wearing? What did they think? 

I have a particular soft spot for etiquette and self-help books of the past; I just find them incredibly charming, with their crazy titles and ridiculous advice and rampant sexism. It's so easy to laugh, now.

For some reason, my Nana's worn and beloved copy of The Bride's Book caught my eye this week. One meandering, time-killing internet search led to another, when suddenly I hit vintage marriage etiquette book jackpot on etsy. What, like you've never hit vintage marriage etiquette book jackpot? Weirdo.

(Can we just take a moment to appreciate the amazing nom de plume on the bottom right? 
I find the quotation marks deeply fascinating. My theory is it's really a man.)

So now I'm wondering how many vintage marriage etiquette books a girl can justify purchasing. And whether that number is more or less than the number of books on increasingly obscure aspects of World War I currently sitting, unread, at Fin's end of the bookshelf. I think I've got some catching up to do.

Are you a new book person, or an old book person? A really special new book can still get me excited; I just cracked the spine on my (brand new! hardback!) copy of Days of Blood and Starlight and I'm already well and truly sunk.

And while we're on the topic of books, are there any I should be putting on my Christmas list? You lot strike me as the people to ask.

All images from Eager for Word on etsy. You might also have noticed I've stopped linking to Amazon. That's because Amazon is evil, and Hive is the best idea ever.

9 boats moored

  1. These are AWESOME! I love them all - and I think you are right about the nom de plume being a man! That's so funny!


  2. These book covers are so funny. I would be curious to read such manuals. Yesterday I was talking with the boy about so called "finishing schools" and how it would have been handy to know how to make a perfect sauce bearneaise and Iron properly. Or what subjects are appropriate for discussion with his boss....
    I just like to laugh at all those things.
    I really want to read "Reading ¨Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. It seems interesting and has really good ratings.

  3. These are simply wonderful!

    I'm an old book person, and I'll be honest and admit that I also judge books by their cover a lot! I've often bought a book that I've already read, simply because it's a particularly nice edition with a great illustration on the front!

    (on that basis alone, I say buy ALL the books!)

  4. I love both. If I want to get stuck into something, not worrying about accidentally tearing the edge of the page because I'm frantically trying to find out what happens, it's new books all the way (or ebooks.)
    But I love old books for their smell, and how they look and their often fantastically camp titles and subject matter. And speaking of the business of loving, my friend recently found a very old book in a charity shop that rated 18th century Edinburgh's ladies of the night in the most charmingly descriptive ways. I'll need to borrow it for next Blookclub.

  5. I love the look of these - they're gorgeous - but the smell of damp old books unsettles me too much. I'm not exactly a clean person, but their wrinkly yellowed pages make my fingers feel horrid.

    But YOU, you should definitely buy more - make it into a project or something: "I HAVE to buy all these etiquette books because I'm reviewing them on my blog!"

  6. I'm very much an old book person - I'm amassing a ridiculous collection of jumble sale/thrift store Agatha Christie paperbacks in various states of tattiness.

    In terms of newer reads, my favourite book so far this year was The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides - my Christmas list will definitely involve the new Hilary Mantel, but apart from that I'm still looking for inspiration...

  7. A marriage manual - ha! I love it.

    I'm a new-book-to-me person. Having grown up with a librarian mama, I love old books, but equally I can (and sometimes do) spend entire afternoons in bookshops. I'm easy that way.

    Re books for your Christmas list, I don't know but I'm very much wanting Pullman's Grimm Tales. And A.M. Holmes' latest.

    Also, THANK YOU for telling me about Hive!

  8. These are cool. I went to the book barn near Bristol where every book was one pound and was quite excited. Complete works of Shakespeare? £1. Shane Ritchie's autobiography? £1. Folio Society copies of various classics? £1.

    I love all books old and new. My one bad experience with old books was a copy of a book with snot between the pages but I think that is due to the person who read it not having the respect for books that they deserve.

  9. I only get actual books for Christmas, and they are usually weighty tomes that are banned from the bedroom for creating bad juju ("I don't care how interesting that two part biography of Stalin might be, no mass murderers in sleeping space!")

    Otherwise it's mostly ebooks on the kindle, which saves me the trouble of trying and failing to find somewhere to put them.

    Rebecca on the other hand only goes to the library, as she reads a book a week (sometimes two) and never re-reads any of them.