So, booksilver….
Thanks to my friend over at booksandbuttons.wordpress.com for suggesting this name. Why do I like it?

Well, it starts with Books, of course.
But it’s also reminiscent of quicksilver, which (you will recall) is an old term for mercury. What’s interesting about quicksilver?

A beautiful photo of quicksilver drops, from http://www.chemicool.com/elements/mercury.html

It’s the only metal that is liquid at normal temperatures, which makes it liquid silver. It’s weighty but fluid, which may be why it seemed almost alive (“quick”) to its early namers. Quicksilver seems to have magical properties: it’s what alchemists used when they tried to turn base metal into gold. The mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in China (the one with the terracotta army, buried in about 210 BC) supposedly had a model landscape surrounding his tomb, the rivers flowing with quicksilver.

Calling something quicksilver suggests that it’s valuable and beautiful and alive. It’s no accident that the memories depicted in the Harry Potter films look like quicksilver when they’re drawn out with a wand.

Of course, quicksilver — like words, thought, memory, and books — is not only valuable and beautiful and alive. It also has poisonous power. It must be used with care. Its bioactive properties led people to use it as a medicine; calomel was a form of mercury, for example. It was also used in silvering mirrors, in making thermometers and other instruments, in making hats, and too many other uses to list here.

I’m interested in certain properties of quicksilver — the ones that correlate to the magical qualities of books, reading, writing, and thinking.

But I also want to have fun. Quicksilver is fast and slippery; it breaks into tiny beads and then rejoins itself (I know this, sadly, from experience, having broken a mercury thermometer many years ago). Quicksilver is hard to control. Quicksilver is a trickster. Books can be tricksters, too — they don’t always behave the way we want them to, nor do readers. Opening booksilver is, for me, sort of like shattering a mercury thermometer on the page and seeing what books, and what thoughts, spill out.

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