I have always had an obsession when it comes to books. I remember when I was little, finding Enid Blyton’s Mallory towers box set when I was raiding cupboards to find Christmas presents early. So excited, I managed to pull a sicky which resulted in mum giving me at least one of the books early to keep me entertained while I lay, weak and feeble, on the sofa and smiled sweetly at my younger brother as he left the house for school every morning. I found some lovely fluffy, beige, fingerless mittens too, and loved them so much that I dreamt about them every night, and still sometimes do. Only to see them opened by my elder cousin on Christmas morning. Despite this major deception I can still recall the joy, suspense, exhilaration of not only having a complete book just dying to be read, but also the secure knowledge that there were six more patiently waiting their turn.
I caught my love of books from my mum, whenever I remember her sitting on the sofa, which admittedly was pretty rare, she had a book in her hand, and probably a ciggie in the other but that’s another story.
I always have a book with me at all times, and get twitchy if I find myself without. When going on family holidays I have been known to take a dozen books for a fortnight, and read them. If I don’t get round to reading them all, at least I have a choice; I might be more in the mood for reading fiction, or perhaps something a little more educational, and I tend to get a bit panicky if it looks like I might run out of suitable reading material. Anyway, it’s a camping car; space and weight are not a crucial issue. I think my husband’s point of view is something more like – we never see you except by peering over a book while on holiday, it’s ruining the photos.
I don’t have a shovel or torch in the back of my car in case of breakdown, but I do have a book (and a pair of trainers).I have an Imelda Marcos attitude, but with books not shoes, at least they take up less space I suppose.
Moving abroad in a pre-Amazon era was certainly a challenge on the book front, but one I rose to with determination. Not only did I bring over suitcases full on each visit and encourage family and friends to do likewise, sometimes even inviting people with good literary taste (in my mind at any rate) when stocks got low, but I went even further in my obsession never to be bookless – I learnt to read in French. My secondary school teacher, her of the “brain like a sieve” description of my linguistic talents would have been amazed. Reading books in French did however mean reading translations six months after the book had first been published, until…
Amazon, as you are probably aware, was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, he was chosen (rightfully I believe) as Time person of the year in 1999. The online bookstore snuck into my life in 2003. It’s amazing to look back and discover that in the first couple of years I only ordered a handful of books – per year as opposed to per month, or sometimes even week, as is presently the case. One thing is certain, it swiftly became one of my main expenses, I really should get my salary paid directly to Jeff, and it would save on banking fees.
This glut of books, the relief of knowing I will never run out of reading material, ever, has changed my reading style. Before I would read every book from beginning to end, no matter how bitter, and reread favourites regularly, especially towards the end of term when brain exhaustion sets in. Now I have started doing something rather reactionary, yes, I can admit it, sometimes, if I’m not enjoying a book, I don’t finish it. It took me a long time to do, and longer to admit. If we don’t like what we watch on TV we turn over, so why can’t we do this with books?
The kindle has revolutionised my life, I know there'll be some Luddites out there who will say it's not a book, it's not reading, I don't care. The feeling of carrying hundreds of books around inn my bag just fills me with a warm fluffy feeling. I just have to remember to recharge.
P.S. For those following the A-Z challenge, yes, I know I'm a day late, better that than never, I'll catch upp next Sunday while you're all lying in bed all day!