The Smell Of Happiness
Tonight I went to my friend Jared’s house for his 30th birthday party and I actually came away with a better present than I bought (which isn’t hard since I bought the staple Thai present of a bottle of Hong Tong to be shared by all). I am an English Literature graduate and a certified book snob. One of the best investments I made before coming abroad was a kindle; if you’re like me it’s invaluable. I feel the same way when I don’t have a book to read as most people do when they forget their phone. It feels like something is missing from my person, like a hand has been cut off – this is doubly so when travelling. With a kindle (or similar) not only do I always have something to read, but I can choose my material or find things that people recommend instead to having to rely on what English books I can find in Thai bookstores or hostels. I would give up 95% of my wardrobe, my backpack and a fistful of cash before I parted with my kindle.
That said, a kindle is not a book, and tonight I acquired from Jared two of his most precious on the condition that they be returned immediately upon completion. Lent books tend not to be returned on the road. The books in question are Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. The first is the true accounts of people living in North Korea under the regime and the second I don’t know much about, but the blurb describes it as “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.” That’s pretty high praise and Jared tells me that it’s well-deserved. Content-wise I’m excited to read both but what has me brimming with joy tonight is the feel of the books; especially Marquez’s. I opened the soft tan pages and buried my nose in the middle of them and I was met with the scent of pressed flowers, old forests, words and wisdom and the timeless magical aroma of a well-thumbed tome. As magical as a kindle is, until they can perfectly replicate the soft shuffle of pages turning, the softness of old paper and that musky woodland scent they will never replace the good old-fashioned book. Pure bliss. I’ll let you know how the content goes but I’m confident they won’t disappoint.