I used to want to capture beautiful things and keep them close. I used to be sad that flowers died. I used to cling on to good memories. I used to have huge bookshelves groaning with books.
I don’t know why it has taken me so many self-help books, and traumatic experiences, to get to grips with the joy of experiencing fleeting loveliness – feeling the beauty deeply and effortlessly, letting it go – trusting that the world is brimming with beautifulness ready to be noticed.
Borrowing beauty in experiences, people, giving, seeing, feeling is a natural human state. Modern marketing seems to have divorced us from this state by creating artificial desires and offering attempts to fulfil them. By creating insecurities in us (the marketing ‘problem’) and seeming to provide self-actualisation in various shades (the marketing ‘solution’).
I don’t believe we are meant to hold tight. I do believe we might hold dear, however. Time is of no consequence; a moment of deep appreciation is a gift more rare than years of remembering the beautiful thing is there with you in the other room somewhere.
It is a lovely way to live. I think of the word ‘transience’. Previously I would have felt transience was a melancholy state. Now I rejoice in transience. We are all transient here, everything is. The secret is to embrace that and allow the pureness of being in the now to overwhelm us for that moment.
So it is after this lengthy somewhat tangential introduction that I mention the luscious beauty that is the new cover designs by Klaus Haapaniemi for two well-loved Patrick Suskind novels. I can look and look at these illustrations and — is it because of the www which allows me to see these covers whenever I want? — not need to possess them even while I love them.
As I said, I used to need to own books. Collect and imprison them in huge bookshelves. I don’t have that need any more.
Years ago a friend of mine was baffled by my buying books instead of borrowing them from the local library. I was baffled by his read-and-return attitude. I thought him superficial. Now I see he was wise.
After several years of borrowing books of all kinds from local libraries I find the library a magical infinite universe of books. I can even pre-order new books, order others and it’s all free so you can gorge yourself with anything – take a pile of books out, maybe only read one, take them back.
I think most people don’t realise how luxurious, how decadently indulgent, libraries make reading.
I can read volumes of reference and non-fiction books and not pay for them and float about in fiction from any era, not simply choose favorites chosen by a particular book store chain or independent book shop.
I do feel slightly uncomfortable about my love affair with libraries (and librarians, who are always lovely!) because I am also a novelist and of course if people don’t buy books, well, em, what then dear reader?
Image borrowed from Penguin Books/Klaus Haapaniemi. Thank you for making the world more beautiful.