Many book enthusiasts also have an affinity for reading accessories such as bookmarks, book plates and book lights. Although I’ve owned my share of each of these (and in some cases have fond memories that date back to childhood), when it comes to book accessories, my favourite is the simple canvas bag.
I don’t know when canvas bags and books first became a pair, when the first bookseller printed a pithy saying or an author’s portrait on a plain cube of simple fabric, but I do know that I have an insatiable urge to collect them. In particular, I love buying canvas bags when I visit book stores in other countries and have several from shops in the US.
One appealing thing about many good canvas bags is their volume and durability, with my largest ones able to hold upwards of 20 books. But not all of my “canvas bags” are actually canvas. I’m also drawn to tote bags that have beautiful designs (check out Vic Books’ Getting Carried Away and Victoria bags, both sporting designs by Wellington based Sarah Maxey) unusual features, e.g the zippered top of my Strand bag or the velcro top and long shoulder-sling strap on my City Lights bag.
In fact, my love of the book-toting ability of a good canvas bag has bled into my choice of more fashion-oriented handbags. I generally can’t bring myself to purchase a new purse unless I’m certain it’s big enough to hold at least one paperback. That’s just necessary forethought at this point.
Unlike books, which each contain their own story or knowledge, one would think that, after a while, you could have too many canvas bags. But I haven’t really found this to be the case. Each bag reminds me of a lovely book shop I’ve visited or an author or publisher whose works I’ve enjoyed. And they’re certainly versatile. I mean, you don’t have to use them just for carrying books…though…what else is there worth carrying?