Big may be beautiful, but small is seductive!

Spoiler Alert: I am talking about books here.

I love small squarish books. I like the feel of them in my hands, their unexpected heft, their solidity. Customers in libraries ask all sorts of questions, like  “Where are your Biographies? Do you have any Italian books? How do I log-on to the computers?” and “Where are the toilets?” to name but a few. But as of yet, no one has ever asked me to direct them to the Small Seductive Books section.

A Dog a DayBut just recently I have been spoilt for choice. Here are 5 small, but perfectly formed chunky little books: A Dog a Day by Sally Muir is a collection of Muir’s dog drawings – a different dog every day over 365 days. I am moved by this book in more ways than one: I love drawing (and I try to draw every day), I love dogs (though Muir has omitted Scottish Terriers – what was she thinking?), and it is small and  squarish. Win, Win, Win.

In the midst of the dreary grey winter weather that was such a feature of life in Christchurch a few weeks ago, a small jaunty book stood out from all the drabness and said “Pick Me!”, and that’s how Brolliology (A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature) ended up in my book bag. What substances are these people imbibing to get such an off-the-wall idea as linking literature and umbrellas? Whatever it is – Give It To Me Now!

Everyone know’s that I love café culture, that I never take my meals at my workplace, but each day treat myself to a capuccino at a nearby café. Some libraries even have café’s on site – that works too. Lonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour is a neat little book that I wish I’d had in my possession when we travelled to Italy. I checked out the New Zealand and  South African cafés and I am pleased to report and I am ahead of the pack in these two countries. If you are about to travel, have a flick through this muscular little number.

Now, let’s put it all to music. Donna Leon, well known crime novelist has brought out a beautiful little book on an intrinsic aspect of Venetian life: the Gondola, and it comes with its own CD of well known Gondolier renderings. This book is arguably one of the most beautiful books I have ever held. It is also informative and entertaining. One of the first chapters “I Think I Could Do This” tells of a dinner guest who was given the blueprints of a gondola as a gift. It took him over 5 years to build, and 32 men to lift its 350kg weight onto the truck that would take it to its launching place. That’d keep Greg busy in his retirement!

And finally, step aside Hygge, because Japonisme is about to knock you right off your perch. In an exploration of your Ikigai (purpose), Kintsugi (repairing broken ceramics with gold) and wabi-sabi (the transience of life) and more, you will be gently exposed to much wisdom, such as:

One who smiles rather than rages is always the stronger.

Japanese Proverb

And I am delighted to tell you that all the above-mentioned seductively small books did indeed make me smile.

Recommended Reading:

Small is beautiful

Book cover: The Library Book My library seems to be filling up with large and beautiful coffee table books at the moment (I have a strong suspicion that other libraries are sneaking them in here at night, when we aren’t looking).  They ARE beautiful, with their giant pages, shiny covers, and gorgeous multi-page spreads of breathtaking photographs of exotic places. But they don’t make my heart beat faster.

Instead, and being the contrary kind of girl that I am, I am finding myself drawn to the other end of the spectrum. Beside my bed is a slim volume of short stories by A.S. Byatt; in my bag is a copy of Susan Hill’s The Small Hand; I recently finished re-reading Dan Rhodes’ Gold and Little Hands Clapping, and earlier in the year read and loved Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. I keep putting Alan Bennett’s Smut and The Uncommon Reader on the Staff Picks shelf, and I have just picked up The Library Book from the holds shelf.

I don’t know what it is about my current state of mind that is making me drawn to these wee jewels – at under 200 pages each, they certainly don’t keep me reading for very long, and I have to make sure I have at least two or three around all the time in case I finish one before my lunch break is over, but I can’t seem to go past them. Subject matter isn’t important, and neither is a fact-or-fiction differentiation. They DO have to be hard-backed copies to catch my eye, but apart from that it seems I am not fussy at all. I can quite happily dismiss the great solid tomes that everyone is carting around right now, but show me a tiny story and I have to have it.

Help me out here, folks.  Point out the common thread, so I can make sense of my addiction, and then feed it by suggesting more tiny titles …