Book magick

Books are so much more than they first appear.  Not only are they pure escapism, a chance to become something or someone else, a sanctuary, therapy, self-help, informative, pages of wonder and delight, but they are also time travel portals.

As objects in any era, they can provide evidence on the social values and beliefs of the time in which it was written. The body of knowledge within the binding can often contain so much more than the text.

As rare objects made before the advent of mass production, books can reveal a plethora of information about the society in which it was fabricated – industry, technology, values and beliefs, social etiquette, social status and self-presentation, information on import and export trends, materials that were available and why we used them. All of this and so much more if the book has provenance or readers notes.

Take another look at your book because it has “magick”…



Anthropology – Your relationship with your book

Definition of anthropology in English:


The study of humankind, in particular:

1. (also cultural or social anthropology) The comparative study of human societies and cultures and their development.

2. (also physical anthropology) The science of human zoology, evolution, and ecology.


Anthropology is most simply defined as the study of humans through time.  In studying a human culture, a social anthropologist studies the material culture of the people in question as well as the people themselves and their interactions with others and things.  An anthropologist looks at the object itself, its context, and the way it was manufactured and used in order to understand the social culture in which it featured.

So think of your relationship with your book or books…

  • Is is a paperback or hardback binding?
  • Is it printed in English or another language?
  • Where was it printed?
  • When was it printed?
  • Have you borrowed it from the Library, and does it have a Library stamp?
  • If you own it, does it have any previous owners?
  • Have any previous owners written in it?
  • Have you written in it?

What is the social life of your book?

What will your book tell others about you, and also about the era that we live in?

Are you leaving behind autobiographical information for posterity?

CS books

Trompe L’Oeil Books

  The pleasure of books, 
without the that possible?

Deborah Bowness books wallpaper


Trompe L'Oeil book wallpaper

If you can’t get enough of books, or you can’t fill your walls with bookshelves or bookcases, or maybe the children/dogs would eat them anyway, here is your answer.

Deborah Bowness bookshelf wallpaper and real Penguins

It looks beautiful and can give you the same sense of equanimity that a book collection, being surrounded by books, or walking through a Reference Library can give you.

Bibliophiles everywhere do not scoff at this, it is surely the next best thing..

You Who Never Arrived ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

You Who Never Arrived

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don’t even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying to recognize you in the surging wave of the next moment. All the immense images in me — the far-off, deeply-felt landscape, cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected turns in the path, and those powerful lands that were once pulsing with the life of the gods–
all rise within me to mean you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house–, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,–
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening…

Rainer Maria Rilke


The power of books – camouflage in the waterways



I’ve always suspected the protective power of books, the sense of sanctuary in a library or bookshop, and the calm that descends when reading. In his novel, Steven Hall describes the  intriguing premise that all human minds are linked by vast ‘streams’ of language and thought, and, swimming through these streams, are thought-fish. Not all fish are good, and from the most predatory of all, the Ludovician, we need protection or camouflage:

Books of Fact/Books of Fiction:  Books of fact provide solid channels of information in many directions.  Library books are best because they also link the book itself to every previous reader and any applications of the text.  Fiction books also generate illusionary flows of people and events and things that have never been or maybe have only half-been from a certain point of view.  The result is a labyrinth of glass and mirrors which can trap an unwary fish for a great deal of time.  I have an old note written by me before I got so vague which says that some of the great and most complicated stories like the Thousand and One Nights are very old protection puzzles, or even idea nets by which ancient peoples would fish for and catch the smaller conceptual fish.  I don’t know if this is true or not.  Build the books into a small wall around yourself.  My notes say three or five books high is best.’

The Raw Shark Texts

There have been times there is no denying, when the only thing to do, would be to come home to my favourite books, stack them up around me, and find peace enough to relax knowing that I was safe in my book tower. Now I know, they only have to be three or five books high…




The Library of Unrequited Love ~ Sophie Divry


The Library of Unrequited Love – a s0liloquy

This book is probably going to be something other than what you were expecting. However, I am delighted to say, the Librarians’ soliloquy is one that we have all experienced or are experiencing – that constant narrative in your head, that portions of, sometimes unwittingly, end up being spoken out loud to a colleague or other.

So here she is. Not altogether unhappy, but definitely not happy. But then who is? Finding a reader asleep in her Library who had been locked in overnight, she begins her little speech about various aspects of Library, as well as her, life.

Full of description, and lovely Librarian ‘nuggets’, it will undoubtedly be one that mostly appeals to those in the business. But I would like to think that it does give a little insight, if not a little sensationalised, into the world of Librarians. I could listen to her all day long.

Book to read at its best in one sitting. Has my full recommendation.