“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it.”
– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey.
Holding a book in hand, smelling its realism, and turning the pages over at your own pace in your own way is a simple experience of great sensory gratification. Social media has been very successful in popularising unconventional behaviour around books. E-reading might have crammed the paperbacks into shelves for a short while, but they’re out under the spotlight and on everyone’s timelines again. Following the lucrative trend of Dark Academia and Light Academia subculture, there’s been a renaissance of the scholarly lifestyle. As a post covid trend, romanticizing the daily life scholarship on digital platforms became popular. Netizens began posing with ceramic skulls, candles, and Crime and Punishment, draped in black lace, or with coffee, dried flowers, a thrifted copy of Wuthering Heights, suited in plaid pants and blazers for the theatric display of academy culture. As people dive deeper into their individual philosophies and personal anxieties, they read more – either to escape, to seek answers, or to write. The return of the hard or paperback books is trailed by the smoke of transcendentalism and beatnik novels, a Goth vibe, and many literary classics.
Book trade is thriving. For a taste of antiquity, vintage or used books are regularly thrifted in large quantities. Today’s readers are more than willing to preserve and recycle books, and defend knowledge alongside protecting the environment. Accessibility of new, old, and used books in terms of cost and availability has shot up to literary heaven through SNS. Paperbacks are reinstated as precious assets among the younger generations as photography décor, emotional support, or erudition. Physical books are valuable, and the internet acknowledges this.
Mark Twain once said, “′Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” Although the scholarship around classics hasn’t dwindled, they find more than one use in a household. There are too many unconventional uses of books to be contained in a list. Nevertheless, here are some –
Coasters: According to Sir Francis Bacon, “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” And then there are some photogenic books that make great coasters. There’s a Coffee Table Reads section at the bookstore for a reason.
Essay/Article commissioned by: TDLM Editorial
Written by: Ipshita Chakraborty
[Digital Innovation; Jadavpur University; Lady Brabourne College, Kolkata; English Literature]
‘Books Not For Reading’ First Published in The Daily Life Magazine on September 22, 2023