Michael's Musings

FridayReads: Why We Broke Up

(FridayReads is a weekly feature in which I discuss a book that I’m either currently reading or just have on my mind. It is inspired by @TheBookMaven and her #FridayReads hashtag.)

I’d planned on kicking off this feature with a review of a terrific little picture book I’ve had on my mind; but another book barreled in and I just have to write about it instead. (Next week, lovely little fish and bowler hat, next week.) Anyhow, without further ado, here are some thoughts I’m having while reading:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

There’s something about the feel of a page. Picture a zine in the coffeeshop, grimy and gritty from the photocopier, the stapled fold imprecise and bleary-eyed. Imagine the texture of vellum on your fingertips, cozy like velvet to the touch.

And then there’s the glossy paper in the hardcover edition of Why We Broke Up.

I knew as soon as I touched the first page that I would love this book. There was something substantial, momentous even, about its glossy feel. This wasn’t novel paper — it was art book paper. The kind of slick paper you use to present and preserve things of import. I might not be explaining this well — so here’s the thought process that occurred as I opened the book, as closely as I can transcribe it.

1) This is super nice paper.

2) I can’t wait to turn these pages. I am fully geeking out here.

3) I’m really glad that Kate at Penguin Bookshop pointed this book out.

4) I’d never have gotten to experience this if I’d just bought the eBook.

I mention that last part not because I’m opposed to eBooks. But this specialness, this moment of tactile beauty, is why I’ll never fully give up print.

I’m writing all of this rather than a regular review of the novel because Why We Broke Up is structured via these kinds of moments — our relationships with things and the memories they evoke. It just seemed to make sense to share this moment, even though it’s not really a review, even though this isn’t the book I’d planned on writing about. To quote the novel, “You either have the feeling or you don’t.” I guess I was afraid that I’d forget about it if I waited.

PS: My initial impression was right; I truly did love this book. The story on these glorious, glossy pages is terrific. The writing is sharp and relatable and moving — but since this isn’t really a review, let’s leave it at that.

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