Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mass Market Summer

At the beginning of every summer, when I'm most excited to go swimming and my bottle of waterproof sunblock is barely opened, I pick up Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I've had this mass market copy since high school, the spine remaining miraculously uncracked. It has suffered under a variety of writing implements: pink glitter pen, an Eberhard-Faber Mongol #2 pencil, a Pilot GPS-Fine, and the occasional off-black hotel pen. It has been carelessly thrown into over a decade of summer bags, been splashed by three oceans, and has held all sorts of bookmarks (receipts, pens, and most notably, even smaller books). It is loved.

I've already finished Dandelion Wine, and am diving right into this summer's behemoth series: Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, twelve complete books collected in four movements. It isn't very portable, with each volume reaching at least 700+ pages. I happened to snag two of the books in mass market editions, so I have bright orange Penguin paperbacks of A Buyer's Market and At Lady Molly's to give me a brief break from carrying around the beautiful (but giant) volumes from the complete set.

Most of the year I can't quite stand to hold mass markets.  I prefer hardcovers and trade paperbacks, sturdy independent things that can be propped open and don't need to be precisely cradled in your hand to read.  Yet, when summer rolls around? I don't mind mass markets.  They're full of badges of honor--pages torn from that time you gave a tourist directions, pages marked with directions from when you were a tourist that needed directions, folded pages, pages flecked with sunblock, back cover warped from the time you put your iced tea on it for a bit too long, pages turning yellow with age.

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