Dominique was nice enough to inform me yesterday afternoon that the local Powerbooks was selling copies of Watchmen again. Seeing as it's one of the items on my list that I hoped I'd get for Christmas (but didn't), I dropped by later that same evening to pick it up. Dominique, for that matter, was nice enough to let me borrow his discount card for the duration of the sale.
Watchmen, for the non-readers out there, is one of the greater works of the last century. Time Magazine has it in their list of the 100 Greatest Novels of all Time (circa October 2005), in fact. It is an utterly fantastic read that covers an alternate version of our modern world, and it offers us glimpses into the flawed and often disjointed personalities that human heroism often wears. It's a comic, but it can definitely not be judged by the fact that it's "just" a comic.
I first read the book back in college and loved it then. Seven years later, I apparently still love it enough to shell out a good chunk of cash for a copy. And seven years later, the book still holds the power to keep me turning the pages -- I went to bed at 4:30 am last night, just going through the story.
Good books are like that, I think. You don't just read them once and put them away; you read them, remember them, and when that memory sparks in your mind one cold day seven years later, you wish that they were in your hands once again.
You can always tell whether or not a book is loved. These books are invariably scratched, folded, dogeared, marked and stained. Their spines are broken in more than once place. Their covers are long gone, torn completely off their pages by the mere passage of time. Their words are smudged or crumbling in particularly favored passages.
This could be why I don't like people who have private libraries. I think you know the type -- the rich, dapper ones who manage to have an entire room dedicated to shelves and shelves of formal hardcovers. I spend hours in those places. I look at the glass displays, frown in dismay at the fact that they're locked shut, and generally give people a look that says, But does he actually read these?
Strangely enough, there's even a Feng Shui tenet that advises people to fill rooms with books in order to subconsciously absorb the knowledge within. Sad, but true.
Of course, Watchmen isn't the only item on my list of good reading. I've covered a small selection before, and even that doesn't scratch the surface of what I read, like and love. The best part about good books, of course, is that barring a catastrophic occurrence that affects the universe as we know it, books like these will continue to be written.
All that remains, then, is for us to find the time to drop by the nearest place and pick them up. They may cost us only two bits, or they may cost us a whole roll of bills, but if they stand out in our memories so well, then at least we know that they're well worth the experience.
In my opinion, everyone out there should have a book that they're constantly looking for.
Here's to more of their kind. In both ways, yes.