I went shoe shopping yesterday. And today. This is not an activity I enjoy. After visiting seven different stores I had purchased one pair of shoes. They are going back to the store tomorrow because the flats that felt like they fit just fine in the store were too big once I got them home. Perhaps my desire to find a decent pair and go home made them feel like they fit, but alas, they did not.
As I walked out of the store, I thought, ‘Shopping for books never sucks this much.’
And it doesn’t. Because while there are more genres, sub-genres, and micro-genres than there are shoe styles, it’s easy to find a book you’ll want to read. You just wander into the new releases section, or into mystery, biographies, romance, history, or whatever else it is that floats your boat, and poof! You find something you’re looking for, whether it’s a biography about Julius Caesar or an anthropomorphized dinosaur romance (they do exist, or so I’ve heard…).
How do you tell if the book fits? It’s quite simple. Just flip to any page and read a paragraph or two. Or a few more, if necessary. You can tell pretty quickly if the prose is the sort you’ll want to curl up with a nice cup of tea and a purring cat, or if it’s the sort that will lift you out of your skull and transport you to another world entirely.
You’ll also be able to tell if it’s the sort of book you’ll want to hurl at the nearest wall.
Books will never stretch out and become unwearable the way shoes can. Maybe the cover gets worn out, and the pages grow yellowed or dog-eared with time, but a good book stretches you out, not the other way around. Perhaps there’s an idea or a point of view within the book you’ve never considered before- but now you are, and you’re looking at yourself, your behavior, or the world in a different way. Suddenly your brain has stretched a bit, and you’re better off for it.
If a shoe stretches out, you risk its falling off or giving you a blister.
Granted, both shoes and books have their fads, both getting beyond tiresome before they fade away (I’m looking at you UGG boots and teenage vampire romances), and they both have their classics. But Voltaire’s Candide still inspires its readers long after Louis XIV’s shoes became museum pieces.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate shoes. They keep my feet warm and dry and protected from whatever sharp stuff is on the ground. But if I had to spend hours shopping for something, I’d rather it be a book.