Only the Most Refined Dust

By Shea Godfrey



I remember the first book I ever read on my own. My mother gave it to me and I sat and looked at the cover for a very long time. We were going out to dinner or meeting family friends, I can’t remember exactly. I believe I was four years old. Right before we were about to walk out the door, I announced that I was going to read it for her. I think she had a look of frustration, but then she smiled and sat me on her lap.


I remember running my hands back and forth over the cover and feeling so excited I could barely sit still. And then I opened it, and found the first page. It was filled with color and action, and I was filled with a curious joy. I had no idea what was going to happen. I had no idea what the words would say. I took a deep breath, and then I began to read it aloud.


“A little red hen had a seed…”


There was a rat involved and a lazy dog, and a cat that could not be bothered. There was a succulent ear of corn and a story I had never heard before. I don’t remember what the pages smelled like then, though I remember my mother holding the book up and smelling them, her eyes big and laughing as she looked over the edge.

The Little Red Hen


Straight cut pages. Hard cover. Soft cover. Small enough to fit in your pocket or so thick it weighs your backpack down and puts a crimp in your neck. Uneven page edges with a rough texture or smooth edges with gilt. Leather bound. Soft and seductive vellum covers. High gloss or matte, though the cover art explodes into your imagination from either one. This one smells like a bible. This one smells like the library. This one smells like oranges, though how is that possible? This font reminds me of my leather bound edition of Tom Sawyer. This font belongs to Jane Austen.

The pages of my Bram Stoker’s Dracula were actually cold, and so was the book itself when I held it in my hands. I wore soft knit gloves when I read it and a blanket draped over my shoulders. It smelled like the earth from our neighbor’s garden after it had been tilled and turned. I noted this before I even began reading it, and I found it somewhat disturbing. I still have the copy, never returned to my high school lit class. It is held together with a single, heavy rubber band.


I understand the lure of the eBook. I understand the necessity when you’re in school. Every bit of reading required is at your fingertips, weighing just under a pound. Much different than the complete works of Shakespeare I bought for a quarter from the university bookstore, much used and abused after twenty years had come and gone. Two strips of grey duct tape on the binding were all it needed. But I wouldn’t want to carry that bastard around all day. I know it. I see it, the eBook logic.


But there is a romance that comes with an actual book. There is the soft turn of the pages as your mind either sinks in deep with every line, or races ahead because you can’t stop it. Your fingers toy with the corners of the pages yet to come. Sometimes you give in and turn just a few, and perhaps you even read a sentence or two. Usually you regret it, though sometimes it makes you curse and smile and you force yourself to go back so you might get there honestly. Your legs tucked beneath you on your favorite chair, all the while knowing that an entire world waits just for you. It is singular and contains but one miracle all its own, deserving of a proper home on a crowded shelf among other miracles. And if it smells like oranges? Even better.

“All books wait… They sit patiently on their respective shelves, gathering only the most refined dust, until the day their covers are opened and their pages turned by the proper person.”

~ Robert John Guttke

14 Responses to “Only the Most Refined Dust”

  1. 1 Connie August 28, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Nice Shea! I like the way the books responded to your feelings and touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 2 S.A. August 28, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Wonderful blog! I use my e-reader on my daily commute, and it’s a Godsend given that I’m also lugging around a laptop, lunch, etc. It weighs next to nothing and takes up little space in my backpack. And, if I finish a book mid-journey, I can easily select another!

    But I agree – there’s nothing quite as satisfying as reading a real book. And I, too, have old friends read over and over that are showing their age. (But the worse they look, the more they’re loved, right?) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 4 missourivaun August 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    Such a great read. Thanks for this.


  4. 6 Franci McMahon August 28, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Yes, you have put this very well. I’m new to eBooks, can see their amazing portability and access to so many books, and then there is the but…


  5. 7 Beth August 28, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Perfectly said. I have a Kindle and it does serve a purpose when I travel but I do love the touch and texture of a book in my hand. I get great joy in walking into several rooms in my house and gently running my fingertips over the spines of books, looking for the next book to whisk me away.


  6. 9 Sharon E. Owens August 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Yes, I agree. I love real books, despite having to get a Kindle in self-defense(our books are about to push us out of the house). Of course I have to get the paperback of Blackstone to join Nightshade. I’m so glad you finally got the sequel published.


  7. 11 Devlyn August 28, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    Since eBooks were released by BSB, way back when, I have not purchased a paper book. I am a huge eBook convert you might say.
    I didn’t really read much before I discovered lesfic and have read every day since. I always found that my anxiety was high with paper books. I know this sounds silly but the sheer volume of the task of reading a whole book was often overwhelming. With the eBook I am able to cope with one page at a time. Glad other can find so much joy in the pages of a paperback though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  8. 12 Morgayne August 29, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Nicely blogged. I’m almost 62 and the feel of a book in my hands is familiar. But I’ve been downsizing for years and I’m getting ready to move to a lovely tiny space less than 200 sq ft. You know, to leave a smaller foot print. So Goddess bless our ability to read books without having books to box up and move. Congrats. Warmest, Morgayne


  1. 1 The Haps | Women and Words Trackback on September 7, 2014 at 11:05 AM
  2. 2 Did you catch this? | Women and Words Trackback on October 11, 2014 at 2:37 PM

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