This blog post is a (belated) response to Ashley’s brilliant video: 15 Of My Favorite Bookish Feelings, which is itself a response to Hank Green’s video: 15 Of My Favourite Feelings. This is a non-exhaustive, non-ranked list. A comprehensive list of my favourite bookish feelings would be very long indeed.
1) Reading a book in a new genre and having to make a new category on my bookshelf.
I enjoy feeling like my reading tastes are broadening, and the creation of new spaces on my bookshelf reflects that beautifully. I also love sorting things into neat piles and boxes, so this is the perfect intersect of those interests–the centre of the Venn diagram, if you will. A lot of thought goes into the “natural flow” of genres on my bookshelf (for example, comedy > comic fantasy > classic fantasy > classics from the Western canon), and figuring out where to put a new genre is always fun. I can’t tell you how sad I was when I finished Lonesome Dove, worked out where to shelve “Westerns”, and then realised it was on my Kindle so I couldn’t have the fun of a new section. (Unkind readers might point out that many definitions of the word “sad” could apply here).
2) Figuring out who the killer is right away, spending the rest of the book being fooled by red herrings, and eventually realising I was right all along.
This makes me feel simultaneously very clever and very stupid. It’s impressive to make someone experience both of those things at the same time, but Agatha Christie is queen of it.
3) Rereading a book I previously didn’t like, and discovering I was wrong.
Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice.
4) Rereading a book I previously loved, and loving it even more.
PG Wodehouse’s books make me happier every time I read them. I think that’s because, every time I read something new of his, I become more familiar with his sprawling genealogies of lovely upper-class idiots, and gradually their lives are beginning to become somewhat linear and chronologically ordered in my head. (Who is Bingo Little in love with this time? for example). The novels are wonderful standalones, but the Jeeves books in particular contain lots of references to one another that were missed on me the first time around. Rereading The Eyre Affair is always fun as well, for much the same reason: I keep reading more classic literature, so I get to catch references that I missed the first (or second or third) time around.
5) Making a new friend with very different bookish preferences, discovering that I love all of their favourites, and being introduced to entire genres.
I was introduced to comic fantasy via Terry Pratchett (which I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog), and classic crime via Agatha Christie, both of which were recommendations from the same friend. He’s also the one who finally convinced me to read the Inheritance cycle, which I enjoyed far more than I expected. None of these are things I would have picked up on my own, especially back at the start of university when I was a classics-only book snob, so I definitely appreciate the diversifying of my reading.
6) Mastering a recipe from a cookbook.
I’m not sure if this constitutes a bookish feeling, as such, but I always have tremendous satisfaction on the rare occasion when it happens. Something on my 30×30 list is to cook a meal from every section of Nigella Lawson’s Feast, and it’s genuinely one of the things I’m having most fun doing. Next month: Roast Lamb for One (bless Nigella for including ridiculously luxurious recipes for one in a book entitled “Feast”; I can’t think of any other writer who’d do it).
7) Reading a book set somewhere fancy whilst I’m staying there.
Okay, this has only happened once so far. When I was in Rome for a work conference just before Christmas, I was reading A Room With A View, which is of course set in Italy. Despite the fact that Rome is not in Tuscany, there was something about reading those descriptions of outrageously ornate churches, tall houses decked out in terracotta and umbra, and truly exceptional coffee, and then being able to go out of my hotel room and experience that all around–it was a pretty magical experience. I’ve never done any travelling before, but I will definitely make a conscious effort to theme my reading around any future destinations. My surroundings added to my experience of the book, and vice versa.
My next work adventure will be in Ghent, and I haven’t found any recommendations for good Belgium-based books yet, so if you have any recommendations, please pass them on!
8) Recommending a book to someone who ends up loving it.
I recently gave my old copy of Middlemarch to my dad after replacing it with a shiny new Penguin English Library edition. It doesn’t fall within his natural comfort zone (which is Wodehouse and Wodehouse alone), but he started reading it anyway because he’s a good dad. I think he was mostly humouring me to start with, but as he got into it, he sent me several enthusiastic texts about how much he was loving it (right up until the point where he left the book on some farm or other in the middle of the countryside, so his enjoyment has been suspended until he gets a new copy). He also loved Lord of the Rings, another recommendation of mine. This is very satisfying.
9) Reading something fast-paced, a bit trashy, and not overly taxing…
…and no longer feeling guilty about it. I’m rereading The Wind on Fire books at the moment. They aren’t literary greats. There are tropes and themes in there that certain sections of the internet would label “problematic” without even stopping to think. There are silly, made-up, very YA, very fantasy names, and the whole thing is riddled with plotholes. The characters race from adventure to adventure, with very little work done to interlink episodes and working them into the overall plot. I did first read these as a teenager, but I was aware that they aren’t particularly well-written, and my pretentious teenager-ness kicked in. I felt rather guilty about how much I liked them, and probably read something by a Brontë as quickly as possible. Relieved of all that self-conscious need to be clever, I am racing through them this time, and absolutely loving every clichéd paragraph.
10) Being snugly tucked up on my sofa with a blanket, a hot chocolate/beer, and a storm raging outside.
Surely this one is universal? Either way, I am a big advocate of cosiness in all its forms, and there is nothing cosier than a book and a blanket. One of my life ambitions is to live somewhere where I can make myself an actual reading nook, but until such a time arises, I will happily make the best of what I’ve got. This is a particularly good way to read thrillers: I have Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier all queued up for the end of September, when autumn will be coming in.