Sunday Book-Thought 135

My bookshelves were more successful with Veronica than my record collection. In those days, paperbacks came in their traditional liveries: orange Penguins for fiction, blue Pelicans for non-fiction. To have more blue than orange on your shelf was proof of seriousness. And overall, I had enough of the right titles: Richard Hoggart, Steven Runciman, Huizinga, Eysenck, Empson… plus Bishop John Robinson’s Honest to God next to my Larry cartoon books. Veronica paid me the compliment of assuming I’d read them all, and didn’t suspect that the most worn titles had been bought second-hand.
– Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending (London: Jonathan Cape, 2011), pp. 23-24.

Sunday Book-Thought 104

What is a book? Certainly it is not, or not only, a bound stack of stained wood pulp, or a papyrus scroll, or a sequence of ones and zeros on a microchip. It is nothing near so definite. I have called it at various times an action, an operation, an interference pattern, a parley, a playground, a parenthetical clause, a syncope, a séance, a Schrodinger’s cat, or a Trojan horse. It might also be helpful to keep in mind the obsolete noun ‘handfast’, meaning variously a firm grasp, a handle, the handshake that seals an agreement, or a contract or covenant, especially a marriage betrothal.
But for now let us say simply that a book is a situation.
Shelley Jackson, ‘I Hold It Toward You: A Show of Hands’, in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature, ed by Joseph Tabbi (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 13-38 (p. 14).