The Most Beautiful Book in the World

When I’m on vacation, I like to visit independent bookstores. As I stepped inside Paragraphs at South Padre Island (SPI), I was determined to purchase something that I couldn’t find elsewhere or wouldn’t think to look for or had never heard of.

The store had a “foreign” section, in which all the books were translations. I bought a collection of short stories based solely on a shelf-talker. Also, it had a nice cover.

How long has it been since I bought a book I’d never heard of? By an author I’d never heard of? These days, it seems I choose my books either because I’ve liked the author’s work before, or I heard an interview with an author I didn’t know and got intrigued, or—and this is happening more and more often—a friend wrote a book. But this book was a complete gamble.

Fifteen bucks well spent.

It’s been years since I read a collection of novellas, and I discovered that it is the perfect type of thing to be reading when I’m in my editing week, when I’m exhausted from staring at a screen all day. A nice, short tale is really all my mind can hold.

I spread out the short stories over a couple of weeks, which gave me time to think about them. I’d read one before bed and then allow it to rattle around in my brain for the next day or two until I read the next. It was such a different experience for me—I tend to devour books.

The last story was my favorite, and it provided the title for the collection: “The Most Beautiful Book in the World.” Yes. I think, perhaps, it was. Thank you, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt.



  1. What a great idea – to buy a book because of what it looks like, what it ‘says’ to your soul. So glad it turned out to be a good one.