Sunday, 24 January 2010

14 - My favourite book

This is my copy of Vurt. It's not my favourite novel. It comes close. Definitely in my top ten, but like most things I find it hard to pick a specific favourite. Every time I reread Vurt, The Beach, I Am Legend, Ubik or any of a handful of others, I change my mind.

What I can say is that this particular copy of Vurt is my favourite book. It is my most-loved collection of printed pages glued together along one side and bound between rigid or flexible covers.

It's cover is still shiny and stiff but flexible enough that I can bend it to my heart's extent. The spine is broken and creased and the edges all round have gone soft and dirty. The pages are curled and worn and the bottoms of the last hundred pages are stained yellow from a time I lent it to a friend.

But best of all, more than any other book in my collection, it has its own smell. A lot of my books have a rich, musty odour from having spent four decades travelling the world before ending up in a second-hand bookshop for a quick stop prior to entering my possession. But my Vurt smells specific. It's a smell I can't describe other than it reminds me of Vurt. It reminds me of the characters and the plot and of Manchester, despite never having been there. Most of all the smell reminds me of the kitchen in my first flat where I read Vurt for the first time in near-enough one sitting.

I can remember each time I've read it since and breathing in that smell, flicking through those pages, wondering what that stain is, having crumbs fall out of the pages, running my thumb up that creased spine.

I lent it to someone a few months ago whom I shortly after briefly lost contact with and I panicked. I could easily buy another copy of Vurt but that wasn't the point. I almost lost my copy, and I'm glad to have it back.

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