Step 2 of 9

More than literature

 Fig  2: Amir holding his favorite items

Fig 2: Amir holding his favorite items

We often think of books as belonging to the world of thinkers: authors write down their stories (twists from reality or totally made up), and spread ideas through those stories. Literature thus easily becomes a thing of the mind. But books are more than literature.

Books have mass, they are printed on a specific kind of paper with a specific kind of font, and they are given a specific kind of cover. They can be sturdy or flimsy and make sound when the pages are turned. Even more striking: books move. Amir’s story beautifully shows what it means to bring along a book, or what it means to be forced to leave books behind. All these matters related to the physical being of a book have an emotional impact on its owner as well as give a different meaning to the content.

What did it mean for Amir to leave his collection of books behind, and only take with him Lanark by Alasdair Gray, and how does it affect the story of the book? In what way is it significant that Amir has kept the story of Animal Farm stored in his brain since his youth, but was never able to legally obtain a physical copy when he was older?