The Sexiness Of Books

Film, Reading & Writing

The Kindle is plastered all over the pages of the Amazon UK website in what is increasingly looking like desperation. I like the idea of an ebook reader, but then there’s this picture, which I took on the beach yesterday. And it’s weirdly sexy. Book sexy. The casual sifting of sand from the pages, the droplets of sweat that fall onto the paper…

See, it’s a bit like swallowing a vitamin pill instead of having a meal. A pill has the same nutritional value without the visual attractiveness. You know what a pill looks like, so this is a picture of my partner’s meal.

Now, eating a plate of what appears to be spiny eyeballs isn’t my idea of fun. They taste like swallowing seawater in the moments before you drown – that’s not the point. It’s the visual exoticism. And with ebook readers there isn’t any – except for the iPad, which I wouldn’t buy because a/ it’s an iTouch for old people b/ It shows films in the wrong screen ratio and you have to download mainstream studio product c/ the books are on a bright screen, which is sort of like reading subtitles without images to go with them.

So for now, I’m afraid, books still win hands down. The book in the picture is ‘Conspirata’ by Robert Harris. This is the US edition of ‘Lustrum’ repacked in a dinky mass-market edition that fitted in my shorts. Further along the beach I saw a lady wrestling with a jumbo airport edition of ‘Lustrum’ from which the pages were detaching themselves. My sturdy US edition got soaked and then dried out crinkly. It will stay on my shelf like that, the reminder of a fine day.

In ‘Paperboy’ I made a table of what I felt at the tender age of 10 to be the difference between books and another competitor – girls.


Will show you the world.

Will show you their fannies.

Can have as little or as much of them as you want.

Can only have them on their terms, usually for too long or not long enough.

If one is boring, you can get rid of it and replace with another.

Boring ones won’t go. Nice ones won’t stay.

Cost very little, predictable, provide hours of fun.

Expensive, and you never know if you’re going to enjoy yourself or get annoyed.

Become treasured memories.

Disturb your brain for years to come.

Silent constant friends, easy to choose according to your mood.

Noisy, need constant attention, determined to upset you with strange requests.

Can send them back to the library.

Can’t send them anywhere without endless questions.

7 comments on “The Sexiness Of Books”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    Kindle and the like simply don’t have sufficient vision. Really, if they just invented a book that gave a blowjob then not only would they have All The Money In The World but also more men would read. Libraries would be odd. Girls would understand at last why men take a book into the toilet. Amazon reviews would be ickier. Author’s photographs would be more carefully chosen. Writers would be richer.

  2. Megan Morrissey says:

    I had the great pleasure today of laughing at a girl on the bus cursing because the battery on her e-book reader died. I offered her a real book to take the pain away.

    Also, love the book/girl list. I prefer books to girls. I also prefer books to boys…..but that’s another list.

  3. Andy says:

    Girls can be bibliomaniacs as well. Books probably smell better than boys. And I am reminded of Yomiko Readman in Read or Die (manga/OVA/TV series) who is quite literally in love with books. I like Read or Die, what other anime can give you the line “You British Library bastards!”

    Books are, for me, a pleasure to hold, to feel, to see stacked on a shelf. They have a weight, a gravitas that E-books just can’t mimic, Not yet anyway, wait until they give us a folding version in tooled leather. I can appreciate that they are useful, my wife would love to have her university reference books available on Kindle, especially since Law books go out of date so quickly. Having a small portable library would be very useful for travel (says the man who took 4 Bryant and May books to Spain three weeks ago). Even so, I doubt I will ever gain as much pleasure reading from an E-book as I do from having a proper books in my hands.

  4. Anne Fernie says:

    I’ve heard that its hard to read ebooks in the glare of sun – is this true? I take it you might have reviewed your views on girrrrls Chris – if I had as many blokes as I had books I’d be a happy bunny indeed…….

  5. Helen Martin says:

    I’ve just returned from a week long calligraphic session during which I read three Edmund Crispin books. I took a box of Bookcrossing registered books to give away and they were gone in two days. One of them went twice (The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead). On the way back we stayed in a very small town where I found a box of books labelled “take this, read, enjoy, pass on or return.” It was sponsored by the regional library. We read and returned. We found a shady bench by the lake, the temperature was 33C, and read while we watched the passersby. The feeling of sharing books was very pleasant.

  6. admin says:

    The Swiss, the Gold and the Dead must be a retitle, as I’ve never heard of it.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    It’s written by Jean Zieglor,q.v., a sociologist, former member of the Swiss Parliament and accused traitor. He was charged because he wrote this book, which details the various Swiss policies and banking arrangements which kept out Jewish refugees during WWII and helped fund Hitler’s government. He testified before the D’Amato commission in the U.S. with regard to the Jewish “dormant accounts”. The accusation apparently led nowhere, as there isn’t any further reference, but he has been controversial ever since and has some odd connections in his c.v.

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