Love – in all shapes and sizes

Cover of The Selected Works of T. S. SpivetEvery so often a list of new library titles or library recommended reads pops into my email box courtesy of the Libraries Email Newsletters. This is a fantastic feature which results in me placing a flurry of holds on what usually turn out to be great reads.  Currently I’m reading this one:

T.S. Spivet’s fans at the Smithsonian Institution consider him a cartography genius–in fact, they’ve awarded him a prestigious prize they’d like him to accept in person, complete with a keynote speech for the celebration. What they don’t know is that he’s only 12 years old. But he’s nevertheless determined to get from his parents’ Montana ranch to D.C., and so he hops a train to begin his crossing of America. Along the way this precocious boy muses on everything from his impending fame to the garbage found on city streets and comes across some equally wide-ranging travellers. Cleverly illustrated, annotated, and printed, this debut is one of a kind.

The Selected works of T.S, Spivet is a book with everything; a humorous coming-of-age novel featuring a child prodigy with definite leanings towards Aspergers, a mysterious family, trains, science, insects, adventure and within its margins delightful little maps, diagrams, anecdotes and explanations.  It also has a rather bizarre and enchanting website.

It’s a book I currently adore (and I haven’t finished it yet – the ending could be dreadful – don’t tell me!).  Yet, for 3 weeks the book languished on my bookshelf – un-opened and unappreciated. Why?  Well, because, it’s not the cover exactly… it’s the shape – it’s the wrong shape!  It has the shape and feel of a text-book – it has the squarish weight of a history text-book whose tedium has not yet  enabled passage beyond the Tudors and you remain trapped in a dreary struggle to remember the exact order of luckless royal wives.

Why should the shape of my reading material matter so much? But it does (and it’s a pain to lug around on the bus).  This – and the title – conjuring images of dull, 18th century poetry by someone you are probably supposed to have heard of but haven’t – must make it a booksellers nightmare.  Indeed, I saw a huge pile of them for sale in the remainders book shop.  Which is why Libraries’ Email Newsletters offer a brilliant way to discover the joys of the uglies you’d never choose to pick up in the library but could become your own true (book) loves.

P.S. What books have you reluctantly read – only to find a true gem?

2 thoughts on “Love – in all shapes and sizes

  1. joyciescotland 23 August 2010 / 11:24 am

    I borrowed Bernhard Schlink’s The reader three times before I actually opened the cover. Once I did, I devoured it, loved it and raved madly to everyone and anyone. Silly me.

  2. Sally 25 August 2010 / 2:36 pm

    I absolutely loved The Selected Works of T S Spivet, having come across it in a list of new titles; however, I found the slightly quirky shape and size of the book added to my enjoyment rather than detracting from it! Really enjoyed all the little ‘asides’ in the margin spaces as well – almost like getting two books in one!

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