Weird Things I Do with Books

Books and I have a close relationship. We’ve been through a lot together. They were there in my childhood, in my growing-up days, through the ups and downs of adulthood, and now into my years as a writer.

So maybe it’s not surprising that I’ve become particularly comfortable being myself around books. Including my weird self.

I was thinking about weird things I do with books and decided to share a few.

Take them to unexpected places. Recently, my husband and I went to this place:

Fry's Electronics storefrontThe largest electronics store I’ve ever been in. Unfortunately, it was difficult finding a good location for me to read the book I’d brought in with me. While everyone else was caught up with video and audio and technology trinkets, I settled into a whole different world outside those walls — courtesy of the novel in my hand.

I’ve been known to bring a book and read at such unexpected places as high-priced restaurants, movie theaters (there’s time before the show!), amusement parks, and yes, parties. Which is why I totally understood Rory Gilmore:

Rory Gilmore & Dean from Gilmore Girls
Dean & Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls

(Rory drops her purse.)
DEAN: I’ll get it. God, this weighs a ton. What do you have in here?
RORY: I don’t know. A lipstick, five dollar bill. Gum, hair spray, a book.
DEAN: A book?
RORY: Yeah.
DEAN: You brought a book to the dance?
RORY: Yeah.
DEAN: You thought there’d be a lot of downtime?
RORY: No. I just take a book with me everywhere. It’s just habit.

Well, of course!

Smell them. I can’t be the only one. I know I’m not! Sure, in these days of ebooks on tablets and cell phones, a little sniff-and-read doesn’t make much sense. But there is something lovely about the crisp, musty smell of an old hardcover or the clean scent of a new paperback’s pages. So yeah, sometimes I pull a book up to my nose and give it a good whiff.

Smell of a Book fragrance sprays
See? I’m not the only one who likes this scent.

Indeed, our olfactory sense is the one most tied to our memories. It’s why you smell apple pie and immediately think of Grandma. Or why a particular cologne hails you back to your first kiss and the boy who wore that musky scent. Why you feel transported to Christmas with aroma of a fir tree.

And it’s why I love the smell of over-stacked libraries, tucked-away bookstores, and well-worn book pages. There are sweet memories and possibilities unleashed in my mind when I smell a good book.

Read them aloud — like an audiobook. I no longer need to read aloud like I did as a child. I am most certainly capable of reading silently — without moving my lips. *taking a bow* But I still read aloud sometimes . . . and not normal-like. Oh no! I read aloud like I’ve been hired as the vocal talent for the audio book recording.

I vary my volume, my pitch, my pacing and change my voice for different characters. Does the novel take place in Ireland? Okay then. I’m giving my Irish brogue some practice. A German character appears? Here comes that accent. An Alabaman grandmother? Well, check out this Southern drawl, y’all.

It doesn’t matter if I get any of this right. I’m only doing it to awaken my imagination and bring the book more to life in my own head. Oh, and I only do it when no one else is in the room. Admittedly, it would be a bit embarrassing to explain if I was caught “performing” my novel like I’d been possessed by the cast of the story.

Talk back to them — like they can hear me. You know how you shout at that girl in the horror movie stepping into the dark basement with only a butter knife? “Don’t go in there!”

Or maybe you’re the sports fan who yells at the bad call from a referee that causes his team to fall behind. “What are you? Blind, stupid, or both!”

I don’t do either of those things, but I do talk back to my book sometimes. “Oh, come on!” I yell when a ridiculous plot twist happens or a character does something incredibly dumb. Or I might coach the character, “Kiss him already! Just kiss him!” I ask my book questions, like in Twilight: “Seriously, he sparkles?” I could even, from time to time, have a whole conversation:

Well, why did you do that? What were you thinking? I told you not to go there. I knew this wouldn’t end well. Of course, he isn’t good for you. You knew that in chapter two. Forget him and get with the other guy. He’s the one who can help you uncover the murderer anyway.

You see? It’s like the book and I are chatting it up over a cup of coffee at my local java shop. And I almost expect said book to respond at some point. But hey, I’m not crazy — I know it won’t answer!

And that’s just a few weird things I do with books. Speaking of books, here’s my own update for A Round of Words in 80 Days.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. Read half of The Quantum League: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby (middle grade fiction). 1 1/2 books of my round’s goal met.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Worked on the outline a bit to get my bearings. Minor progress.

3. Edit one short story to publication qualityEdited one story and sent it to a beta reader. Calling this a win.

4. Publish and promote two short stories. Sent one story to my copy editor and received her notes. Progress!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. I’m behind, but I promise to get to many blogs this week.

Your turn. What weird things do you do with books? And how was your week?

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25 thoughts on “Weird Things I Do with Books

  1. Love that Gilmore girls scene. I love purse shopping and the first thing I always think about is if it can hold a book. 🙂

    Solid progress, Julie. Love that you’re pushing your short stories forward and that you’re making time for Sharing Hunter.

    Here’s to another great week. 🙂

  2. Smell of Book? I’m going to have to get some of that! 🙂

    Great post, Julie! More power to you for taking a book everywhere. Rory had the right idea.

    1. It’s only a problem now and then when I realize my husband and I have gone out…and we both brought books. LOL! I’m like, “Hey, this is supposed to be a date!” So now we keep our books in the car (or yeah, mine can go in my purse). 🙂

  3. I love to smell books! I’m always on the hunt for those that haven’t been opened in a while because they are the best. And I talk to books too. The ones that make me sigh in contentment at the end get a cuddle and a hug.

    Thank you for sharing your week with us!

  4. Not alone indeed! I also like the smell of my books. I’m rereading one of the books that has been on my shelf for the last 15 years or so and I like the musty smell of it. Sometimes I’ve done this in Starbuck’s and hope no one has noticed. Hope you have a great week. 🙂

  5. I rarely read fiction/nonfiction books aloud, but I think poetry and plays just beg to be read aloud. Poetry has music and rhythm, so reading it aloud just makes sense. Plus, I feel like I comprehend it more when I both see and hear the words.

    My Kindle cover is faux leather and it has this distinctive smell that I’ll forever associate with the Kindle and, therefore, e-books. I know it sounds strange, but there it is. And certain types of ink, especially in glossy photo/picture books, have a strong smell that I’ll forever associate with certain books.

    Good luck with this round of words, Julie. You’re off to a great start. 🙂

    1. Absolutely, poetry should be read aloud! Great point, Denise.

      And since I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement cover for my Nook, I’ll have to take that smell thing into account. 🙂

  6. I love the smell of old libraries! And there’s a certain kind of feeling I have in there. The sounds of creaking chairs/floors/books, the quiet, the ruffling of pages – so soothing.

    Fun post, and great ROW goals, Julie! 😀

  7. I love the book smell! I use to frequent an old Carnegie Library when I lived in Ohio. It was converted into a used book store at the time, and it was one of my favorite places hang out. Every time I get a whiff of an old book, I remember that lovely place.

  8. [[::laughs::]] My wife does the same thing with books. It looks like you’re holding your own with your goals as well. Good job. Keep on rocking the ROW 🙂

  9. I wish I had the guts to take a book to a party! Then maybe I’d actually enjoy hanging out with a bunch of people I don’t know, LOL! Love the smell of old bookstores/libraries, too. But I never got into sniffing books–maybe because I don’t have a very good sense of smell?

  10. You are not alone! I do many of these things too. Bringing a book with me, smelling books (I like the old ones too), and reading them out loud. I love doing all the voices! I have fun reading Janet Evanovich books out loud with the Jersey accents. And actually – really highlighting my dorkiness here – I used to read the book out loud and switch accents every page just to practice my vocabulary so I could more easily stay in accent no matter the word. 😀

      1. Ooooh if we lived closer, I would totally sign us up for community theater. Or do our own in the park! We could be our own comedy troupe!

        *starts scribbling sketches for Julie and I*

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