Like many, I'm obsessed with ideas. And there's nothing as ensnaring as a good idea, right?
Books, to me, are secrets wrapped in parcel paper, finalised with a ribbon; they begin as a vacancy, because – as far as I know – they're nothing more than an empty box, and yet they seek to astound and amaze. Good books, to me, are the boxes which aren't empty: they're occupied – full to the brim with thoughts and muses and figments of the imagination. They're occupied with ideas.
And, perhaps, it sounds like I'm not going anywhere with this post, but this is what I want to talk about – what fills the boxes. I want to talk about ideas as intricate as systems of Chinese boxes; ideas that fold in on themselves; ideas which, ultimately, have no end.
Sometimes one line, stolen from a book's blurb, is enough to enthral me – enough to get my mind ticking. In the build up to last Christmas, I spent hours browsing Goodreads intend on finding a novel which would do just this; in the end, it was this line that did it: "Ida Maclaird is slowly turning into glass" [The Girl With the Glass Feet]. Have you ever read a line which suggests such a combination of beauty and transcendence? I was completely and utterly ambushed by this idea.
And yet, other times, it's a breadcrumb trail of ideas that entices me. The Night Circus is just this; each tent is a wonderful and charming idea in its own right, and the amalgamation of all these ideas snowballs into one undeniably intriguing feat of the imagination.
And yet the intrigue of ideas doesn't end here. Deathless and The Snow Child are both reworkings of older ideas… and is there anything better than that? Ideas that have been reinterpreted and refined by different beings and their own, unique, different ideas? To me, that's simply beautiful.
How to Be Both is my current read and, again, my pure adoration of ideas has gotten the better of me here. Ali Smith's latest release completely encompasses the idea of art echoing art. It's written in a style which mirrors that of a fresco's double-take technique – how insanely wonderful is that?!
The Book of Lost Things won me over, once again, through a single line – "books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness" – and there is nothing about this image that doesn't intrigue me. In theory, it's the simplest of ideas, and yet it hints at so many more undiscovered ideas, waiting to be unwrapped. And, in the case of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it's the ideas the title alone inspires that intrigue me.
So yes, I'm obsessed with ideas. I'm obsessed with the intrigue of the simplest of ideas.
So, what about you? Do you find yourself intrigued by ideas? Are you as obsessed as I am?