On reading

It smells dark, and woody, and story-filled. It smells of smoke, of fires, of bread baking in the oven, of thick summer night heat. It smells damp, and cold, and icy; it smells fresh, and clean, bright and new. It smells like you’ve never smelt anything before; like this is the first time you’ve ever really just smelt something, and this isn’t smelling, this is breathing in the essence of something, this is breathing in a heartbeat.

And then you touch it. You hold this book, in your hands, and you touch it.

You touch the words, risen on the page, the hard bump of the ‘m’ and the long tail of the ‘y’. You feel the way the paper runs between your fingers, the thin light-catching paper of a just rushed out best-seller, or the old books with age caught in the whorl-grains of the paper that runs through the heart of the book. It’s in the shape of the words, and the colours; the way the font stands stark against the bright white of a pristine page, and how the first letter of each chapter stands in bold isolation, romantic and exuberant and full of bravado against the expanse of the emptiness before it.

This, then, is reading.

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