There are hundreds of books on the shelves at Molly’s Cafe. People move and bring their books, others bring some in to exchange, and others buy them (at 5 lira each, such a deal). I have had some interesting conversations with various people about books.
Some people are so attached to their books that they never get rid of them. I am not one of those. I get first pick of books that come in here, so I take the ones home that I think I will read. When I finish them (or decide I will not read one after all), I bring them in. Books take up a lot of room and are heavy and I got over the attachment to them a long time ago. There are a few I have kept, but mostly I keep them circulating.
One person I talked to was sure that the Kindle will kill books like the internet is killing newspapers. However, many staunch book readers say that they prefer the feel of books and like turning the pages. They can see how a Kindle would be useful on a long trip but mostly book lovers love the books themselves. I am one of those. I don’t need a Kindle, since I am not on a long trip and I am rich in books.
I recently read an article that discussed the effect of internet reading on book reading. Basically reading the internet involves a lot of skimming and scanning, which experts say has a negative effect on reading more substantial things. Certainly the internet has a lot of ‘fluffy’ information on it, from brief tweets to Facebook status to internet newspapers. However, most people who read ‘real’ newspapers also skim and scan, reading headlines to see if they want to read the article, or reading only the caption under a photo. I find myself sometimes skipping paragraphs in some dense novels because I can’t be bothered with them and want to get on with the story. However, since I am a tried and true reader, I mostly read everything there as long as it is interesting. I am not sure how reading a Kindle affects reading books, but I know I would miss turning the pages and the heft of the book. When I was a teacher I would teach about how we predict the next word or phrase and certainly we do that when we turn the page. If we are wrong, we have probably turned to the wrong page!
Recently I was talking to someone about how with secondhand books, especially in Istanbul, we tend to read books that come our way, rather than going to a book store with a particular book in mind. Since books are so expensive here, we frequent secondhand book stores and see what treasures we find. For example, I never used to read mysteries, but now I often enjoy them. Some interesting books that have come my way include one about Pope Joan, a secret female pope (this is real) and a mystery where the characters are all nursery story characters (for example, the Gingerbread Man is a killer and the bears are being integrated into British society). I have discovered books by Anita Shreve, who I had not come across before. Also when we are in our own countries, we tend to read authors from those countries, so now I am more exposed to British authors, for example.
I read at home before I go to bed and in the cafe. Sometimes I just want to read what I call popcorn books. Those are definitely light reading. I don’t have to think about the style or content that much. Nonfiction books are mostly read in the cafe. There are some books here in other languages (Museum of Innocence en francais, for example) but I am too lazy to read them. Travel books often sell fairly quickly, though I am sometimes surprised at where people are going and at the fact that they found a travel book here!
Books are useful for other things too. They look good on the shelves and they attract interest. And as you probably know, they prop things up! I have used them to keep windows open, for example. At home I needed something to hold the TV decoder, so I took a pile of big books home to do that.
One of the things that I enjoy about second hand books is that sometimes I find things in them. I have found dried flowers and plane ticket stubs. Some people leave their bookmarks inside or possibly a postcard used as a bookmark. One of my favourites was a post-it with ‘I love you’ written on it. It was hard to tell if a man or a woman had written it, and of course I had no idea who it was written to, but it was a lovely sentiment to pass on, and the next reader of that book found it.
So, if you are a book lover or your Kindle ran out of juice, come into Molly’s Cafe and browse the shelves. I am sure you will find a book you want to read.