“When a valued, cultured and elegant friend sent me his new book and I was about to open it, I caught myself in the act of straightening my tie.”
Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street
IBEGAN TO REALLY LOOK AT BOOKS when I stopped reading them. I became a lapsed reader. (For a bibliophile who occasionally wrote a book column or two this posed a problem, but I cunningly resolved it and you will soon see how.) But books were an old and compulsive habit with me, so I routinely stopped at bookstores and bought them. Or borrowed from friends and libraries. At home, I would pick up the book at hand, read a little, stop, and instead notice the cover or the way the paper felt or the binding. If I continued reading, it was the title page verso or the colophon that I read.