I usually spot my quarry in a library. I take it home – mine, all mine. The library wants it back; I reluctantly return it. Next I do the equivalent of “the end of a relationship drive-by”: I stalk between the library shelves, pick up the book and stroke it a bit. If it is not easy to access, I’ll place the item on hold. Get it out again. Keep it for longer than a month (naughty, naughty). Return it. Give up. Buy it.
Some small children start young with this – you see them at Returns clinging to beloved picture books, with harried mothers explaining in weary tones – yet again – that library books must come back to the library. It is one of life’s first cruel lessons. Of course it is much cuter in a two year old than it is for senior citizens to be caught whimpering at Returns. But still I cannot help myself.
I think Dining with the Maharajas is one of the most beautiful books I have seen. It has a purple velvet cover and opens up to a life of luxury the like of which I am never going to experience. I put it on my Christmas wish list, but to no avail. I still track it down, just to stroke it, every now and then.
I took Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life out of the library three times before I finally purchased it. It is a “must own” book for anyone who nurtures a small but persistent little flicker of creativity. In this book fifty artists allow access to their private sketchbooks and give information about their favoured materials. I could not live without it. I now hold it in captivity.
And then there is Nora Ephron. The titles of whose books trace the trajectory of my life: Wallflower at the Orgy; Heartburn; I Feel Bad about my Neck and I Remember Nothing. I wanted them all. Finally a compendium of her writing was published – The Most of Nora Ephron. I stalked once and quickly bought the book for myself. It is My Life on a Plate, also the name of a book by India Knight (which I’ve bought as well).
Authors worry about book sales. That people won’t read printed books because there are e-books; that only libraries will buy books. But they have not factored in the book stalkers.
Have you stalked books and then bought them? Please tell me I am not the only one!