Thursday, May 22, 2008

Books. Words. Imagination.

Long long ago, back in the olden days when I was very young, I fell in love with the written word. I can't remember a time when I did not love books, reading and all the worlds I could enter just because I turned a page. There is no possibility of boredom if you read. I cannot remember ever being bored. And reading fires the imagination and gives birth to dreams you just cannot imagine.

I grew up with the Enid Blyton books. I believed wishing chairs grew wings. I believed in the faraway tree, and I absolutely longed to go to Mallory Towers boarding school. I loved school stories so much that I remember designing the architectural plans for my own school in the Alps, and I even designed the uniform, timetables, rules, menus etc. A la Chalet School books. See what I mean about imagination? Mine was fired all right. I was going to be a champion rider like Jill, a nurse like Cherry Ames, a detective like Nancy Drew.

I remember going on special trips to an old fashioned bookshop in the city centre, which had books up to the ceiling, and those old library ladders to get them down. The smell of bookshops is special. I got to choose my own first grown-up version of the Bible there, and I still have it today, all written in and the holding so many memories.

My friend and I used to meet in the public library after school and we read everything in the children's section long before we were old enough to move on to the adult books. We were such regulars, that we were allowed to borrow books from the grown-up section which the librarian deemed suitable. And she made it quite clear which were out of bounds! Oh the excitement when we turned 12 and graduated to adult books and a whole new world!

Books were the one thing we could get on demand in my family. My parents never refused to buy books. Other things we had to wait for, but books? No. The only problem was limiting my choice. I never could just get one at a time. My father managed to acquire a library bookcase for my bedroom, and it took up an entire wall. And when I was older, I used to babysit in order to buy more books. I used to sit my mother down and say...... name a subject....and I could find something on my shelves which covered it. And I had read them all. I just needed to know things.

Books..... I have many. I am also given to understatement. I have MANY. I have had massive "culls" over the years, when I have been in danger of turning my home into a library with no room for the humans who live in it, and that is always such a difficult process. Books are so much more than bits of paper glued together. It is the words that are the magic.

It appalls me that the children I work with spend so little time reading. This is the generation of instant gratification. Reading is work, and why bother to read when you can see the movie? I overheard some kids talking about studying Shakespeare for exams, and the general consensus was to forget reading, just watch the movie version.

You will never walk around our school playgrounds in 2008 and find a child reading. Or a group reading books. In fact, it is highly unlikely you will find books that they want to read for pleasure in their backpacks. Magazines, maybe. Books? Not really. That is why the Harry Potters of this world have been so important.

To me, one of the greatest pleasures I can imagine, is curling up on the couch with a good book, and the time to lose myself in it. Be transported. Feel my imagination take flight. Move into another world. Escapism? Oh yes. But in a wonderful healthy way.


Words , whether mine or yours, have such power. For entertainment, for influence, for bearing the innermost reaches of our souls, for learning, for teaching, for sharing, for sweeping us up and carrying us into new places. The words are what make me come back here time and time again. Words tumbling about in my mind, and words spilling out, seemingly without my direction.

There are times I sit and stare at the screen and my mind can't focus on the next thing to write, but if I just let the words out, they sort of slip into a rhythmn of their own. Words are what link us all. Every one of us loves words, or we would not be here. We all love reading, and we all love playing with the words, and adding our unique imaginations to the mix we are privileged to share.

I have been known to cook an entire meal while reading a book at the same time. To go on long car journeys, reading all the way, yet still managing to see everything about me. I have also been known to pace the house when I have nothing to read. An Amazon delivery is one of my best things. Ripping open that cardboard to get to a new book is such a wonderful experience!

Hmmm. That sounds a little weird. But I know what I mean.

When I went to sea with Geoff, I had to make sure I had more than enough to read, because my worst nightmare was being in the middle of the ocean with no more books. Thousands of miles from any bookshop. It doesn't bear thinking about. The ship always had a library, but the content was not exactly exciting. I think the books all came from the Mission to Seamen charity shop. And science fiction was never really my best thing. Or books with gore dripping theatrically across the cover.

See what happens when I start to talk about books? I forget when to stop. That could also be because right now I am out of new books, and have not had the time to go and get any. So I will read some blogs instead. I have to read in bed. Or I cannot sleep.

Tomorrow is the last day of school, and I am looking forward to NOT falling asleep at 7.30pm every night from sheer exhaustion. One day to go.


Jo said...

Is it possible you are my twin and we were seperated at birth. I can't think a single scent that brings me comfort other than the smell of old books. I can close my eyes and think about old books and be able to recall the scent. There were times in my childhood when I needed to find a safe place to be. It was in books that I found those safe places.

Loved your 'Words' today my friend.

Crystal said...

My, word - LInds, you should be an author and get paid for writing such wisdom! I remember Cherry Ames - I loved those books with their hard pink covers and newsprint like pages. I too have had an ongoing love affair with books - we are kindred spirits. I packed 2 books when we went to South America this winter and was worrying that I might finish them enroute. I could not find an English book in a bookstore until we got to the Buenos Aires airport and were coming home. I will pack some extras next time and leave home clothes and toiletries if necessary!! I wish we lived closer and could trade volumes. I just started the Kabul Beauty School this morning - have you read it? What about Marley and Me? If you've ever had a dog, you will love it. I hope tomorrow passes by quickly and your holiday break is . just. grand!

I felt such a long post deserved a long comment :))

Linda said...

You have a wonderful way with words Linds. So often I find you have very eloquently expressed exactly what I feel but haven't been able to put into words.
I,too, love words. It thrills me to think that Jesus is described as the Living Word; to know that God created all things by His word. Yes, they are so very powerful for good and for evil.
And books!!! I am embarrassed to admit how many books I have on my "to read" shelf - and I go out and buy more!!! I simply cannot resist them. Half Price Books is one of my favorite places to be.
My daughter and I were at a huge second hand book sale in a Mall one time and I saw the best tee shirt - "So Many Books; So Little Time". My sentiments exactly.
I am thrilled that tomorrow is your last day of school. Hip Hip Hooray!!!
I apologize for being so "wordy".

Susie said...

I always feel better if I have a nice supply of unread books on hand. It's
truly a comfort thing to me (sounds silly I know)
Our daughter has just about 3 more weeks of school. She has mixed emotions about school ending, because her job is then gone.
I know you're more than ready for vacation!

meggie said...

I so agree with you about the books. I grew up loving all my books, & reading was the absolute pleasure of pleasures. My children love reading, & Gom loves reading.
It makes me a little sad now & then, to realise there are so many books out there that I will likely never discover!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I'm in the middle of one of those culls for this weekend's library book sale. I am hating every single minute of it, but I have nine bookshelves and that's it.

This post was a delight to read, Linds. You really should consider writing a book. I think that you would be a natural. (Yes, I tell lots of bloggers this, but it's all true!)

Dawn said...

We are kindred spirits. I always take way too many books with me on a trip, just in case. To run out of something to read would make me very uneasy. I read in line, I read while I walk, I read on the stationary bike at the gym, I read in doctor's offices. I cannot bear to just sit and wait for anything. I can remember in junior high in a new school where I was quite lonely. I rode the bus, and would hit the library on the way from class to the bus, grabbing a book to read on the way home so I didn't have to try to get acquainted with the new rather snobby kids. Books are definitely my friends. And you're right about how much kids are missing when they don't learn to love reading. Movies just don't do it! Lovely post!

Mary said...

So how many twins have you got? If I am your twin then Jo must be my twin too! My parents never bought books. I was not a great reader but I loved the Annual release of The 'Famous Five collection' which my Granny would buy me. Also, my favorite place to go was the public library. Interestingly, I did not read many books there but did find the librarian to be a very kind lady who took pity on me and was extra attentive to me. I love reading now (I am a late bloomer). I think the librarian and Granny planted a seed without really realizing it. Mind you I made sure that as a parent our home was literacy rich. I read to the children from the womb. As yet there are no great book lovers. Go figure?

Barbara said...

Hope you enjoy your half term and get to read some more books.

Anonymous said...




Linds said...

Hi Marie Claude, and thanks for your comment! Don't worry about your english... my french is diabolical, but I understand what you are saying.

Books have been important to you since they saved your life as a teenager, and you always have 5 or 6 in your bag.It is very sweet of you to thank me for my writing.


Edith said...

Loved this post! I also love books - have since I was a very young girl. Loved Enid Blyton - wishing chairs, faraway trees, Mallory Towers, Famous Five and the Secret Seven. I still love books - though now it takes me much longer to finish one. But I hate to part with any and my home shows it.

Thanks for sharing.