Friday, December 11, 2009
I had some time to browse in Exclusive Books yesterday, something I haven't done since we moved offices in August and we are that much further away. Bad mistake. I saw so many books I would love to buy, either for myself or various members of the family. The new Diana Gabaldon is out and I would love to bury my nose in that book and follow Jamie and Claire's story again. The next Robert Jordan, finished posthumously by another author but to his notes and vision, is sitting there temptingly. There's a beautiful new book on the Eastern Cape where I live that is lavishly illustrated and full of fascinating info if I know anything about the authors, which I do. There's the new J.D. Robb story about Eve and Roarke that would fill a space on my bookshelf nicely. And that was just in the quarter of an hour I had before Mike and Kiffa arrived to hoik me out of the shop's alluring toils.
They tell me there's no more space in the bookshelves - true; we can't afford them anyway - true; you can get it from the library in a couple of months - maybe, but its not the same as owning it. I'm a bookaholic, I admit it freely. The one trip we had to the UK and NY ended up with two boxes, weighing 25kg apiece being mailed by sea, full of new books we had bought. I still treasure them. My mother still tells the no-doubt apocryphal story, of looking under my bed when I was about 16 and pulling out over 50 books I had stashed there. When asked what they were doing there, I replied, I'm reading them - true, no lies, I was.
Another time, when I was younger she came into my bedroom and asked me to stand up. When I asked why, she said, "I'd like to see you vertical instead of horizontal for a change and your face without a book in front of it". My son swears I was born with a book in my hand. Certainly the only reason I went to school was to learn to read and came back highly disgusted after the first day because all we did was play with plasticine and the teacher hadn't taught me to read.
So I am a voracious and omnivorous reader, an avaricious collector of books, a haunter of bookshops - whether new or old, and have a head stuffed with bits and pieces from all the books I have read. If someone has a problem, I can always recommend a book to read on the subject. I'm a killer at Scrabble or Boggle as I have a head full of words, many of them no longer in common use and to relax I see how many words I can make from one fairly long one. The best I ever did was about two pages packed solid. I used to score myself - 1 point for every 4 letter word and an extra point for every extra letter in a word. I no longer bother, I'd much rather read or play with another word.
As I was raised on bedtime stories, so has my son, except that they morphed into bathtime stories as I sat on the loo and read aloud to him from Brian Jacques or Tolkein or Harry Potter - his favourites. I do all the accents - some better than others - I sing all the songs and enjoy it just as much as he does/did - he's now getting a bit big for it, but he still enjoys being read to as well as reading himself. His bookshelves are just as full as mine and Mike's and he will happily sit/lie down to read for a couple of hours. It's probably one of the best gifts we've ever given him. He knows that a home needs books - they allow one to reach worlds and spaces and times that we would otherwise never experience.
So here's to writers and their readers - a completely symbiotic relationship and one of the most satisfying I know.