My Soul is a Furnace Fed on the Pages of Books

Taken from letters to my partner


Oh my love. My darling one.

I have just been released from the clutches of a book I have fallen utterly in love with, and I am bereft and breathless and thrumming with life and I want to take you in my arms and tell you with kisses and hands everything my thin words cannot about how this book has moved me.

How could I have forgotten that this was the fire that kept my eyes bright through my childhood? That my soul is a furnace fed on the pages of books, and that no digital substitute will do compared to that ink-and-glue musk, that turn of a page like the crack of a fan in a comedy of manners play; that magical way the simple act of opening a book draws the curtains down around you even in the most public places, gives you privacy, gives you escape, gives you your own private theatre.

I’ve had books as my companion since before I can remember and so never ‘discovered’ these truths until now – they were such commonplace joys I didn’t think to call them joys at all; I took them entirely for granted. How could I have starved myself so? It feels like my soul had forgotten how to fly and is now unfurling its wings once again, feeling the creaks and aches of misuse with as much discomfort as relief.

I want to share this with you so badly, I want to dance with you like this. We could race through books given permission, I used to pride myself on it. Let’s chop and change and delight in the secrets as we find them. Should we find ourselves with a glorious week and nothing better to do, let us lie naked together and pass a book between us like a cigarette in a noir film and tangle ourselves in the sheets like Neo-Victorian bohemians and let the plates stack up outside the door for room service to deal with.

I wish to read voraciously. I must carve the time for this out of my cramped, anxious life at home, swamped by lists and always aware of the duties I have not fulfilled – probably from my sleep, if this latest affair is any indication. Join me, I entreat you – even a poor book is no great loss when we can comfortably conquer them in a week!

Say you’ll join me. Come and soothe my poor sore neck bowed with reading, and let me give you the fire this fiction has given me. I feel sharpened as if by a whetstone, and all my senses ring.


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