I thoroughly disapprove of and will never own an e-reader.* One of the reasons I don’t think these gadgets are as good as a proper old-fashioned paperback is because they make it almost impossible to see what your fellow commuters are reading, and therefore stifle one of the few opportunities for bookworms to flirt with each other.
Surely, for someone of a bookish bent, one of the only redeeming features of traveling on a hot, sweaty, over-crowded tube or bus is observing what the cute person sitting opposite you is reading, and if it’s good, trying to catch their eye and establish a meeting of minds and who knows what else? (Can I just say, this has never actually happened to me, but I like to think that it might, possibly, happen to someone, somewhere.)
But luckily for those lonely literary hearts, I have a solution: FASHION BOOK STUFF!
For the lucky ones with loads of cash, I would point you in the direction of Olympia Le Tan and her book bags. These are the chosen arm candy of celebrities who want to look intellectual on the red carpet and fashion journalists (i.e., me) spend far too long analysing their choices. (“Why is Chloe Sevigny carrying "Moby Dick"? Is Natalie Portman really a Nabokov fan? Does Michelle Williams have the "Catcher in the Rye" version because she’s lonely? waaah!”) Neurotic indie girls with a grand to drop on a handbag might be tempted by the lovely "Bell Jar" clutch, while I would probably tend toward the Mockingbird style that’s on net-a-porter.com at the moment. In my dreams.
So let’s consider some slightly more, shall we say, affordable options. A quick cruise around Etsy threw up these amazing earrings, which feature a teeny typewriter and book cover in each set. I love the deliciously trashy "Peyton Place" pair.
Tatty Devine created a pair of pen nib earrings exclusively for Selfridges. And if you really can’t be bothered with subtlety, their Bookworm name necklace should do the trick. If you’re the sort of person who is fond of phrasing everything in "air quotes," stick these quotation mark rings on your fingers and people might find you marginally less irritating.
In London, we carry our Oyster cards (subway passes) in little plastic or leather wallets and for geeks like me, there’s lots of fun to be had in sourcing quirky, pretentious holders. The V&A's old-school Penguin paperback D.H. Lawrence version is right up my street.
"Very few of us are what we seem..." muses Agatha Christie (my all-time favourite author) on this tiny typewriter brooch. Too true Agatha, too true. I was given this brooch as a birthday present by my fellow bluestocking Anna-Marie and she referred me to its source, the Literary Gift Company which is a veritable rabbit hole for avid readers.
...and holymotherofgod they have a handbag made out of Enid Blyton's "Malory Towers"! And it's $75 rather than $750!
Darrell! Alicia! What? Am I the only one obsessed with boarding school stories?
So let's chat books; what are you reading right now? Would you dismiss a potential suitor if they had bad taste in books, or, shudder, didn't read at all...? Talk to me!
*A big lie -- I will most probably buy a Kindle in a couple of years. This is because I am a late adopter, or as I like to call myself, "post-cool." So years after everyone else is into The Smiths/"White Teeth"/iPhones and just as the bandwagon's rumbling over the horizon, I start chasing it and annoying everyone by telling them about this really great new show "Mad Men" and have you heard of it? I know. Awful.