“Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.”
For Meggie, books have always been the hub around which her life spins. Her dad, Mo, is a book doctor, rebinding books that have seen better days. Books are what the two bond over, are what they decorate their home with, and are how they relate to the world around them. But Mo has never ever read aloud to his daughter, that she can remember, and in the pages of Inkheart Meggie discovers his reasons.
“Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.”
This was a wonderful adventure, and is one that I’ve taken before and look forward to taking again. As I’ve said time and again, I love books about books. And Inkheart is an ode to the written word if ever there was one. However, Inkheart isn’t just a long song to stories, but to the physical books that house them. I’m a big believer in e-readers, especially for their portability, but nothing will ever take the place of a physical book for me. The sound of the pages, the smell of the ink, the texture of raised letters on a cover, the beauty of spines lined up on a shelf, can never be replaced by an electronic document. There’s just something about taking a book down off a shelf and knowing that you’re holding an entire world in your hands that an incredibly heady feeling.
“If you take a book with you on a journey, an odd thing happens: the book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open the book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice-cream you ate while you were reading it … yes, books are like flypapers. Memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
The above quote is so true. If I pick up my Edgar Allen Poe collection, I remember being ten years old and reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” for the first time while hiding under the covers with a flashlight. When I open Ender’s Game, I remember sitting in alone in a Gifted classroom during my 5th grade year, reading through tears because Ender made me feel less alone. I remember reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in one day, when I had to stay home from school sick with the flu. Flowers for Algernon will always bring back to mind a road trip to Tennessee right after I graduated from college. Books matter. They really do preserve memories better than anything else, be those memories flower petals pressed between pages or personal memories that reside right inside the cover.
The fictional Inkheart novel inside of this book was also wonderful. I adore books about books that don’t actually exist, especially this one, The Princess Bride, and The Shadow of the Wind. I always wish I could somehow reach into the book I’m reading and pull out the fictional book within it, but alas. Inkheart is populated with fairies, trolls, little glass people, murderers, fire-breathers, and magic. It was a wonderful addition to the story of a man who could read things right out of the pages he held in his hands.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much on a reread, but thankfully I was mistaken. There was still just as much magic housed in its pages. And it’s a magic that I heartily recommend sharing with any children in your life, especially those who already love books. I can’t wait for my niece to be old enough to experience the magic that can be found within the written world.
“Is there anything in the world better than words on a page? Magic signs, the voices of the dead, building blocks to make wonderful worlds better than this one, comforters, companions in loneliness. Keepers of secrets, speakers of the truth … all those glorious words.”