It’s For Research, Honest

This article from Vanity Fair got me thinking about how we use books to accessories ourselves, and well it might, that is after all the subject of the article, so well done James Wolcott.

When the Harry Potter novels first broke through from primary school reading time to mainstream public consumption (before the transition from there to blockbuster movies to toe-breaking tomes to “is it over yet?”-style spoilery tedium in need of closure), the publishers did a clever thing and releasing a run  of the books with a very plain, “adult friendly” covers – one I remember was a black and white photo of a steam locomotive, nice and innocuous – so that Mum or Dad could read on the train without fear of silent invisible ridicule. After a while, people got more confident and just damn well read the original versions in full view, complete with cartoony action painting covers , and the hell with you if you didn’t like it. Literally, according to some people.

I remember a train journey once when I did some work in Leeds. I was at a table for four, with three strangers, all doing our own thing. As the journey wore on, one person brought out their Harry Potter book, and
started reading. With a smirk of camaraderie, another passenger brought out their copy of the same Rowling slab. They exchanged the smiles of the support network, and read. The third stranger then reached into her
bag, produced the same volume yet again, and this time the smiles were broader and someone may even have made a satisfied sound. Then they all looked at me.

I reached into my bag, and brought out my copy of American Psycho, and *to this day* I regret not having had post-it notes stuck in the good bits.