Thin Book Spines and Titled Chapters

Earlier this week creativity nudged me to rearrange my book stacks, update my Did-Not-Finish reading list and take newly themed book pictures. Amidst all these I noticed a few things about my book arrangements. I arrange differently every time. Sometimes I could put thick spine books atop or beside each other in a word graffiti rainbow. Other times, book spines in gradients of colours, like beige to bright yellow books, beside mustard next to orange and coffee brown. After reading how Dr Da Silva in Like A Mule Bringing Ice cream to the Sun by Sarah Manyika, kept books with characters she felt would love to meet or settings they should visit together. I added that to my system of arrangements.

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Books with thin spines I noticed get put together at the very top of stacks or right end of my shelf just before pocket-sized novels. Thin book spines have always fascinated me. Have I assumed I could finish them in two hours? Yes and wrongly so at times. I’ve noticed thin spines are used for novellas, tiny print novels and poetry collections. A thin spined book can be a condensed or quick read. Not knowing what to get can quickly fast track a reading slump for me. The curiosity, really, does the fast tracking. I recall when I was to read Last Days At Forcados High School by A.H Mohammed, a Nigerian coming of age novella. I procrastinated it until I discovered how full but quick it was to read. Unlike, Independence by Sarah Manyika which was condensed. I began it having learnt my lesson only to have a long read ahead. Thanks to the multiverse for reading vigils!

I remember secondary school days when we’d pick positions on novel lending lists. Or during book swaps, I’d always smile when fellow bibliophiles would carry the book, turn it around to look at its spine and width. The borrowers use quick reader maths (ie. book lust × the book spine/ weight + page numbers ÷ reading speed) to estimate how long they’ll read the novel. It was always an intriguing sight. How come we rarely did that with thin spined books? Maybe because romance and thrillers came in thick spined, brown leaved, pocket-sized novels.

Then there is the aesthetics of thin spines in book photography. I had to prop up a stack of thin spined books and zoom in high-definition into the smaller lettering of their book titles. Aesthetics of words is another way I arrange my books. How can I write a mental fill in the gap story with titles on book spines, is the game this arrangement plays. The beauty of lit words made me begin to note and admire titled chapters. I can’t remember my first favourite titled chapter. But two books on my current To-Be-Read books list have many intriguing titled chapters. I feel my admiration and preference for titled chapters came from loving short-story collections.

Laughing As They Chased Us by Sarah Jackman has beautifully names chapters, ie. explain love, the love bit, etc. I can’t forget chapter 13’s title in Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera. ’13. Didn’t Come to Kill Anyone. I Came Here to Die’ was so mysterious! Excitement led me through each chapter of this queer coming of age novel. That’s the thing with titled chapters, they promise intriguing insight into the plot and characters.

I don’t mind chapters named after the characters narrating them like Dimple and Rishi in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon or in Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi narrated by Zélie, Amari and Inan. Titled chapters at the upper edges of books just add so much witty beauty to book photos. For example, in my Instagram picture for The Sun is Also a Star by Nicolas Yoon which I dubbed “A Guide for falling in Love within a day: Using Science and Fate.” The book edge of ‘explain love’ in the picture was a metaphor to the theme of Nicola Yoon’s YA Romance ebook. Am I the only one that has noticed how thin spined books and titled chapters influence their book lust, book arrangements, purchases and photography? Either way I’m still a book nerd who loves titled chapters and thin spines.

Don’t forget to have a booked weekend gemstone!

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