Charles Dickens once said “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” Here at Cocoa Runners, we would like to add a small addendum to this statement: “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate … and a good book”.
Sharing stories is key to the human experience. For generation after generation, sharing stories in their various forms has helped to foster a sense of community. For thousands of years before the conception of the printing press, the oral tradition of storytelling was one major hallmark of the human experience that transcended cultural and technological boundaries.
In time, the increased availability of printed works helped to solidify the narrative of many stories, in reality, books were expensive and comparatively inaccessible. As a consequence, publishers sought alternative ways to bring their authors’ works to the public, and alighted upon serialization in newspapers and periodicals as more accessible media.
This steady release of staves allowed readers around the world to enjoy new works from authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dickens himself. It allowed them to read stories day by day, week by week or even month by month alongside their friends.
Its easy to see how the measured release of stories would lead to early versions of ‘water cooler moments’, with people eager to share their thoughts on every twist and turn of the plot as it came.
As books became more affordable, and publishers started to move away from this format. And the water cooler moments were instead owned by visual media. But in the past year or two something has changed. Streaming services started to provide whole seasons at once for us to binge watch over a weekend.
And it started to feel that in this age of instant gratification, the art of patience, and the thrill of anticipation may be lost to us forever. It seemed that bitesize story telling looked set to become a lost art. The recent growth in popularity of podcasts that tell stories week by week and month by month, has brought about a resurgence in serialisation. And we understand why.
Much like a bar of carefully crafted chocolate, a good book deserves to be savoured. While cheap chocolate bars are designed to be devoured and leave you wanting more, a just a square of a top quality bar will leave you sated. Each time you carefully wrap the bar up, knowing that it’s there to look forward to, at the same time tomorrow. By the same token, while it’s tempting to plough though a whole book over a rainy weekend, it can be just as enjoyable to savour it a chapter at a time to brighten up a dreary commute.
Here at Cocoa Runners, we believe that great books, like great chocolate bars, deserve to be shared. As voracious consumers of stories in their many forms, we often share tips as to the latest must read book. Indeed, there have been times when our admiration for a certain book as been so ardent that we rush in of a morning, desperate to share our thoughts on the latest twists and turns of a story over a square or two of a fruity Madagascan bar.
But there are times when disaster strikes. One of us has a habit of leaving their books in cafés, and another all to often breaks the code of honour and reads several chapters ahead… Which is why the discovery of The Pigeonhole was so fortuitous. This nifty app – currently one of Apple’s ‘best new apps’ – allows you to set up a group with your friends, choose a book, and read it together in bite sized instalments. We were a little concerned that we wouldn’t be able to fold corners and bookmark our favourite parts as we went along, but we needn’t have worried. The app allows you to save off your favourite parts, and actually add your notes as you go, so that fellow readers can chime in and see if they agree.
The kind people at The Pigeonhole have a special offer for Cocoa Runners subscribers this Mother’s Day. If you buy the Mother’s Day Collection, you will receive a digital book from The Pigeonhole for free. You can use the code for any book in their library, but if you’re reading along with your mother, The Pigeonhole recommend Angela’s Readman’s Don’t Try This At Home – a collection of some of the best short stories you’ll ever read. Designed to be savoured a stave at a time, they’re the prefect accompaniment to a square or two of craft chocolate.