Book love. A cultural sociological interpretation of the attachment to books

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Why do people in the UK read and collect books when there are so many other sources of information and forms of story-telling available? What are the material and experiential bases of book love? People are attached to books because books are icons: they embody and enable the realisation of sacred cultural goods. Books do not simply communicate or signal social values or ideas. Aesthetic immersion in books’ materiality allows for these values to be realised. On the basis of the qualitative analysis of 43 interviews and 60 responses to the UK’s Mass Observation project this article advances the cultural sociology of reading by bridging theories of iconicity and attachment and placing materiality at the centre of the analysis. The data are used to illustrate the powerful appeal of the practical fusion of three elements: the material, surface properties of books; the highly valued cultural goods that books represent and realise; and the act of reading.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101440
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • reading
  • books
  • icons
  • attachment
  • cultural sociology
  • materiality
  • material turn
  • iconic turn
  • cultural objects
  • sacred
  • cultural goods


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