What do a Book and a Man Have in Common?

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Everything!

Maybe it would be clearer if we substituted the word “man” with “man you’ve fallen in love with.” So where is this common element? What can a green-covered book and a tall, blonde man have in common?

Anyone who feels a subtle, frisky, “hungry” change in their heartbeat when they enter a bookstore might be able to answer that question. It might be similar to when that tall, blonde man enters your field of view.

The automatic doors of the bookstore open, and you meet the seductive smell of books combined with the cool air licking your face. This moment is similar to when a woman who is shopping crazy enters her favorite store and sees a blend of colors and the new season dresses welcoming her and yelling to her, “Buy me, buy me!”

In the mind of the woman a sentence is flashing: “I must have it all!”

I must read all!

However, this excitement and enthusiasm also comes with a partner: desperation. You think of the countless books you’ve read. You think of the very special corner of your home where the bookshelves are placed. You are a king in your home among your own books, but there in the bookstore you’re tiny and weak.

The woman wants to buy all the clothes at once, but she has neither the money in her wallet or the limit on her credit card to afford it. Even if she bought them all, it’s doubtful if she could wear them all or rein in her dissatisfaction. Likewise, it’s impossible to read all of those books at once. When looking over the books on your shelves, your eyes rarely catch one you’ve read. With unbearable thoughts of how inadequate and unenlightened you are, another idea appears in your mind: “What’s wrong with not reading most of those books?” You should be grateful that you’ve got so much more to read and learn. Wisdom is boundless. No matter how far you swim in the sea of knowledge, you will never see land!

That relaxes you a little. After glancing quickly at the Bestseller’s Section, there comes History, Literature, Psychology, New Age, Poetry, and Fantasy Fiction. Some time passes. As a regular reader, you quickly lose yourself in the pages. After several minutes, you’re heading towards the cashier with your arms filled with various novels while having one last look at the books you might have overlooked. Then, you see it.

No, it’s not the man of your dreams; what catches your attention is just another book, but it catches you tightly and somehow touches your soul. You start to move towards it, without knowing if it’s the title or cover that turned your head in such a way.

So, how did that man touch your soul? What quality did he have that turned your head and prompted you to move toward him? Maybe if you had turned your back to the book and walked away, it would occupy your mind for a few hours at most before its image faded from memory…fade away like how he makes you feel when you think about him…oh sorry, it. You would forget in about the time it would have taken to read the book you bought from the Bestseller’s Section.

But no way; there’s no escape. You have let that man into your life and your mind. You don’t know if it was the cover, the name, the author, or its accolades that attracted you at first.

Maybe it was the publisher or the edition number, who knows? Maybe it was all of them, or none at all!

Maybe you feel that a missing piece of your puzzle is hidden in that man, in that book where you dream of inhaling the smell of its pages.

Then, you get closer. Now, you’re close, and you’re holding the book in your hands. It’s a little thick. Your heartbeat speeds up because you know you will ultimately finish it. A fast and impatient reader like you inevitably doesn’t take long. Every ending burns your heart, regardless of whether you liked it or not, and leaves a bitter aftertaste. Still, the later death comes, the better it is…right? So, that book, which surrounded your soul, is heavy and thick with pages. Good news: The bitter end is far, far away.

You slowly move your right hand over the cover and feel its smoothness. Your fingers get a little dusty, but you don’t mind. After rashly turning it over, you start to read the back cover. It’s like the theme you have chased for years is summarized on that back cover. You feel like you’ve been enchanted.

Glancing at the price label, you realize you cannot afford to buy it together with the other books you picked up. It doesn’t matter! You drop everything else on an empty shelf and head toward the cashier’s desk, clutching that single book in your hands. Then finally, it’s yours. While tasting the feeling of ownership, you wonder if it feels the same or not.

It has exactly 495 pages to explore. Feeling excitement and enthusiasm, you can’t even breathe and ask yourself, “What has happened to me?”

“What has happened to me that I completely lose myself just by thinking of him?”

The drawings on the cover disappear, and his dark bottomless eyes appear, waiting to be explored. You yearn to read him like a book until the end. You want to absorb each line of him, to find out every hidden meaning. You want to dig into him until nothing is left behind.

You can’t hold on anymore, so you open the first page after taking a deep breath. You’re an amateur swimmer who’s preparing to dive into depths you’ve never experienced before.

A long time passes, but you’re still reading. You already believe in the book’s charm. As it’s your soul’s mirror, as you look at your own reflection in each letter you experience the hunger of seeing yourself. You love him so much that you want to see through his eyes.

You’re still reading. You’re one of those who isolate themselves while reading, but you will have to return to life when you finish it. Your heart aches again when you say the word, “finished.” However, you cannot escape, even if you refuse to see. There’s a limited time allocated, a restricted number of pages written, and you’ve already halved them. Wednesday ends, and the rest of the week quickly passes. You’re getting closer to the end. What are you going to do when that moment comes? With an inescapable sorrow, will you try to get away from that world, which was easy to enter, but hard to escape?

Will you cry? I ask because not every ending is a happy one. A longer time passes, and then, hey, you have just a few pages left to read.

I can imagine the ache of parting in your stomach, and I can sense your curiosity. After a few pages more, you will have learned all of his secrets and dreams. You will have reached the bottom of the well. It will have passed through your veins, and it will not smell the same again as when you first bought it. Will it still be attractive? Will you tremble from top to bottom when he touches your hand?

How will you feel when you’ve read the last word of the last line of the final, 495th page of him?

Maybe you will be left dumbstruck or terribly confused.

Anyhow, these new writers love open-ended stories.

(Written by Zeynep Oğuz)



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