My name is Linda and I am a book addict, so this is my day to celebrate! You can blame my mom if you like, she used to do the traditional mom thing (back then ….. and still should be IMHO), and read to me every night before bed. Thank god there wasn’t really any television to speak of back then. Programs considered suitable for kids finished at 6 o’clock (think it was 6), and then there was nothing – IMAGINE IT! – a blank screen until those mysterious adult programs began an hour or so later. Truth to tell, I wasn’t really interested in what went on then because my mom took me to the wonderful worlds inhabited by “Little Women”, “What Katy Did”, “Anne of Green Gables” and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” as well, of course, as Enid Blyton’s idyllic worlds. Back then one graduated from Noddy and Friends to “The Secret Seven” or “The Famous Five.”
Once I was old enough to do the reading myself I travelled to the England of yore with Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte or Charles Dickens, and once I went to senior school, well, it was quite overwhelming. I just wished that English had been the only subject (well, maybe some French and Geography and History thrown in), and the school library also opened up new worlds with non-fiction books. Er….um…..confession time – I used to cop out of sports lessons so I could spend the time in the library, granted we weren’t always reading, but a lot of the time we were! I’d been forbidden to join a library before going to high school (books carry germs apparently), so just wandering around those shelves was like being in church for me. It was, actually, exciting!
I always owned books. I still have my copy of “The Wind in the Willows” and the “Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson”. Oddly, although I read the former to my own kids I never read the fairy tales, and I’m not sure why, but we weren’t short of books anyway. Every trip to England meant lugging back heavy cases, books layered with clothes mainly. In those days it was easy to get away with excess luggage, and I rarely paid anything, luckily.
I also still have the paperbacks which fired my imagination in my teens, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Scott Fitzgerald mainly, and, of course, “The Catcher in the Rye”, that was obligatory for my generation, James Baldwin, WH Auden, Wordsworth, Whitman and Tennyson for poetry, Christopher Isherwood, Somerset Maugham and Leo Tolstoy………and, well, you don’t want a list of authors, do you? You get the picture.
My little apartment would be a whole lot tidier without them.
There was a period when books took a back seat, but it passed and nowadays there is a lot of non-fiction, mostly travel and biographies, photography and stories of development and international problems, but recent years introduced Barbara Kingsolver, William Boyd, Isabel Allende, and some marvellous African authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just to name a few (as they say). Someone is going to say to me, “Ah, but you didn’t mention *********”, but there isn’t time or space. Convinced now that I am an addict? Books spill out all over the place, they aren’t only restricted to the shelves pictured above! These are squidged in between my bed and a chair,
and these are on the stairs, awaiting sorting,
and these have to live in a drawer because there is nowhere else to put them –
I do try to get rid of them. I am very enthusiastic about www.bookcrossing.com which is a wonderful concept in theory – that we should pass on books, once read, either to other members (think of it as an international book club) or by wild releasing, which is fun, leaving your book in an appropriate place for someone else to find. They then, in theory, register with Bookcrossing.com that they have found it and do the same. Sometimes books can be tracked through several owners, and internationally and that’s fun. Trouble is with the books I’ve enjoyed I always think I will read them again, often do, so the ones I release are the ones I haven’t enjoyed that much, or ones that are part of an ongoing exchange through Bookcrossing. On the odd occasions I’ve released books I liked I’ve regretted it! Why oh why oh why, didn’t someone journal “The Prodigal Summer” when I left it in the internet shop in the Outer Banks? Seemed like a good place to me :=(
Living in Spain does nothing whatsoever to curb my passion because books are really celebrated and appreciated here. In Barcelona, for example, today is a BIG deal. There are book fairs and stalls (I don’t ever remember being in any other city with so many book stores anyway), and the tv cameras are there to report on St George’s Day. This day ladies, you should be giving your man a book, and he should be responding with a rose. You see, books are even romantic here!
I do see a Kindle in my future, and whether that will tame my collecting I have yet to find out. It will certainly make the travelling easier, which will be the idea – lighter than most books and up to 3,000 of them on just one of those tablets. Win/win, no? What I have to figure out is if my home, wherever it is, will feel less homely without books. I simply can’t imagine it. It’s my books as much as anything which make a place my home. On the other hand, the travelling and moving around would be a lot easier without the volume. Other than very personal stuff and a handful of cds it’s books which make up the bulk of my possessions these days. I’ve sold and given away just about as many as I can to date, so until it’s time to move on again, I’m just going to enjoy them, oh, and excuse me, I’m off to start a new one now!