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.