There are books I covet because of their looks. Books I lust for because of their feel. Books I feel I must possess for no real rational reason at all. The Headline Review Jane Austens are one. The Penguin Steinbeck Centennial Editions are such another. There is something about the raggedy deckle-edged pages, French flaps, and textured-look covers with the cunning pen and ink sketches that make my hands itch and my mouth water.
Part of the attraction, I'm sure, is that I really like Steinbeck. Or did when I read him a decade or more ago. Of Mice and Men was my first Steinbeck -- read for a middle school English class. It didn't quite rock my world, but there were so many powerful images in that little book ... images which still stick with me today. I think, perhaps, this is how some people reacted to Catcher in the Rye?
After Of Mice and Men my class moved on to other Great American Works (The Great Gatsby *blurgh*) and Steinbeck was never brought up again. Being a sad and nerdy student, I went off looking for more Steinbeck and found The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. Boy, was that as far from Of Mice and Men as you could get, topically, yet I loved it. Carried it around for weeks. Read and re-read the same passages over and over again. Wanted more, but there was no more. Cast around and found Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur which led me to the Susan Cooper Dark is Rising series which (eventually) led me to Katharine Kerr's Deverry novels which led to flirting with this guy named Nevyn on some talker called Crazylands ...
Hrm. My marriage is all Steinbeck's fault.