Where to Begin?

The title of the blog sounds sexual, almost deviant, with the word “fetish” and the suffix -philia. Well, I philia.

But for those who love books, the attraction is compulsive, obsessive, and may resemble sexual desire. It can at least became a fetish, in the way people say they have a foot fetish. I don’t think they want to hump a foot, but the attraction is intense and might be unstoppable. (Feet, by the way, don’t have this effect on me.)

When I feel like I have too many books, I just have to recall Karl Ove Knausgaard mentioning the 2,000 books he has to find space for in his apartment when he first moved to Stockholm.

Or I remember Mabel Dodge Luhan’s description of Spud Johnson’s little casita in Taos, New Mexico, in her book Winter in Taos. She describes the little rooms of his house, and how, as editor and publisher and contributing writer of his magazine Laughing Horse, people sent him horses of all different kinds — “horses of ivory and wood and straw, pottery horses, metal horses, laughing horses, or horses fierce and prancing, grotesque and exquisite.”

But besides all the horses, Spud had bookshelves and books in every room.

“Spud collects books like he collects horses. He likes them for their paper, their covers, their printing and their contents. Every extra dollar he has goes for a book, and there they are, all over his three rooms. He never buys horses — they come to him — but for books he makes sacrifices.”

Can you relate? Or to put it another way — I often tell myself I don’t have enough money for a fancy new frying pan or a new winter coat. But I can almost always find an excuse to by a book (usually used!), even if I feel guilty for awhile after I buy it.

And as my title implies and suggests, I have a thing for Penguins. Not the Antarctic bird, as wonderful as they are. I love most books, but I love Penguin editions of books the best. It is for them that I feel like some people apparently feel about feet.

So while I want to write about books and reading and writing and literature of all sorts, I have to start with Penguin editions. So here’s a photo of one, and I’ll tell the story behind it in my next post.