Have you ever found a really old book? Perhaps in the far end of a drawer, or somewhere out of reach on your book shelf or in a box packed away with other long forgotten treasures.
A good old paperback with dog ears on both corners on the front covers, where the title and the authors name has already been mostly worn away. The pages withered and yellowed with age, the creases in the corners where one may have folded it over to keep their place. The creaky spine barely keeping all the pages together, sometimes allowing one or two loose.
And the smell. Something so ancient and calming. Like walking in the silenced passages of a library. The smell of a book or books, that knowing inside that you may learn or grow or become entranced in another world, if only for a few hours or minutes a day.
As if the words on the pages have as much meaning as the book itself, how neatly it fits between your two open palms, or clutching it in one hand while having a sip of your coffee. Or trying not to get it wet while soaking in a dreadfully warm bath, or whilst you’re trying to cook.
When you stay up until the early hours of the morning riveted by the tale unfolding as you read every word.
You fight sleep, regardless of work the next morning,promising to only read another page which inevitably turns into another chapter, especially if the next chapter happens to be less than ten pages long. When you know if you look at the time that you will have to wrench yourself away from the sentences that have bound you for hours on end. Knowing that you may go hours before you can submerse yourself in the story once again.
Where you feel you are the protagonist, the hero or heroine, walking with and through them, not knowing where the journey may take you. Solving murders, finding love, journeying through the wilderness, going on an epic quest, finding dragons, interviewing vampires, out running serial killers and rabid dogs. Facing supernatural powers and battling alien spaceships and dealing with demons. Conquering illness and overcoming disabilities and finding hope.
Seeing through someone else’s eyes, transforming yourself, uncovering world truths and sometimes lies. Learning how to cook or cope with children. How to perhaps love better and look after yourself.
A place to retreat to when the world is too much. When the lights are too bright, when people don’t understand, when the colours of life are no longer bright.
Sitting with your child and reading a story, or simply pointing out new things to them as babies. Seeing the wonder in their eyes as they not only look, but feel and mouth those lovely hard covers and squishy books they make for the little ones these days.
A life without books?
Could there be such a travesty?
I will never forget the first time I was pulled into and a part of a novel. When the book bug bit.
I’d never been an avid reader as a child. I cannot recall my parents reading to me although they were both avid readers themselves. There was no shortage of books at home.
My name, in fact, comes from a Mills and Boons of all things!
But no, I never did read much. The school library was a waste of a lunch hour. Why spend time reading when you could be with your friends?
No, I was never much of a reader.
Until one day…
My father came home from work hefting I think it must be about five books(five because that was the maximum number of books one could take from the library).
I didn’t pay much heed until he came over to me and plonked the book in front of me.
It was massive and I was only eleven. A hardcover book with, it must have been, at least five hundred pages. I looked up at my father, checking for any signs that he had gone insane in the last few hours while he was at work. Well, he hadn’t started exhibiting any outward physical signs yet. But I knew he had lost some marbles if he expected me to read this book that lay before me in two weeks. Hell I couldn’t finish the instructions on how to build my Barbie doll house, nevermind this monolith of a book he thought I might read.
Before I could tell he could get knotted in manner that was acceptable coming from an eleven year old he asked me to read the blurb(the short description of the book either on the back of a book or on the inside front of the book jacket). He also asked me to give it a chance. If it took longer than two weeks to read, then he would renew it for me at the library.
Well, what eleven year old would pass up the opportunity of reading a book about a dog(yes, I am a dog person but hopefully not in the ugly person kind of way).
Where were we.
A book about a dog. But not just any dog, but a St Bernard(aren’t they the most awesome?) That becomes rabid and kills not only it’s owner and family but virtually keeps a mother and child hostage in a car for days on end.
Who wouldn’t want to read that? Well I guess most eleven year olds. Hell, I don’t think many eleven year olds had parents that thought it wise to give their eleven year olds horror stories by the greatest horror and supernatural writer to have ever livedz…none other than Stephen King.
My first adult novel took a total of five days to read. It consumed every free moment I had. At school and at home. When I was supposed to be sleeping, when I was on the toilet and in the car. When I was eating breakfast, supper or lunch.
Cujo consumed me. For five days I was trapped in a car trying to survive the onslaught of a giant dog that’s only ambition and focus was to eat me and my child.
I also learned how to use a dictionary. And it was the first time I blushed reading a book.
When a woman uses the word “flaccid” to describe a mans penis it is not a good thing.
Since then I cannot begin to tell you of the countless numbers of books I’ve read. By the time I was fifteen I was reading at least five fivehundred page books within two weeks(no, I didn’t get out much!). My idea of spending a day at the library across from my dads work was a day well spent.
There are few things in this world that can beat lying in with a good book, a cup of coffee and a warm blanket.
Nope…I could never live without my books!