and-sh!t-section-header TW13

Books – the ideal life

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
Jorge Luis Borges

Books, are how I seduce my imagination. The tactile experience is very much part of the process. The weight of the book in my hand, the texture of the paper, the very smell of it – whether it is brand spanking new or something I dug out of the bottom of a clearance bin at a second hand bookshop, combine to give me a visceral experience that is on the cusp of being both very spiritual and very sexual at the same time.

Reading a book is like exploring an unexpected gift. The turning of each page is the slow unwrapping one must complete in order to get to the heart it. The sound of the turning page marks the passage of time – sometimes noticeable, sometimes not.

 

 

I have library membership to 3 different London boroughs: the one I live in, the one I work in and the one next door to the one I live in. These are large geographical areas separated by miles and hours of travel. Why? Because I like having access to fresh reading material wherever I happen to be and whatever tasks I am completing. I can comfortably parallel read up to 4 books at any one time and am capable of keeping their storylines separate in my head. I have books I read as I travel between work appointments, ones that are reserved for the office lunch break and ones I enjoy at night before settling to sleep. There are books in every room of my house – bathroom included.

Libraries and bookshops are one of my all-time favourite buildings. I have visited many along my travels and enjoy being in such spaces as they are the physical preservation of our knowledge and our imaginings.
 

 

I cannot imagine not being surrounded by books. Our relationship is too intimate to be replaced by an eReader. I know readers could be considered more eco-friendly as no trees were harmed in their production, but there is something impersonal about them. I like turning the top corner of a page to mark where I stopped reading. And when I come across lines that intrigue or strike me, I can’t highlight them in crayon as I would with a paper book. [Please note: I only do this with books I actually own. Just wanted to clarify that before I start being harangued]. Then there is the argument about being able to conveniently carry lots of books on an eReader.

Reading, for me, is never about convenience. It is a time and an experience I set aside for myself because I enjoy being regularly filled with wonder. I have managed all these years to carry books around with me without too much concern. I am more than happy to reduce the amount of clothing in my luggage so I can include more books. Alternatively, I have carried a minimal amount of books and swapped them at book exchanges in hostels, stations and cafés as I have made my travels.

There is something ceremonial about reading paper books that I am unwilling to forego for an eReader. So I will persevere with my paper books thank you muchly. We shall continue our intimately tactile relationship and I shall fall asleep with them on my chest without fear of theft or damage; shall start conversations with strangers because they recognised the jacket cover and shall spend days lost amongst the shelves of libraries and bookshops being ensnared by the gentle whisperings of turning pages.
 

 

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

 

 

 
The Hobbit book cover
Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

I was introduced to The Hobbit in primary school by my teacher Miss Pugh [Thank you, thank you, thank you]. I can still picture her reading it aloud to our class every afternoon as we sat in the Reading Corner. I was 9 or 10 when I first read it in full for myself and the world it opened up for me was wondrous and expansive. I guess you could say that this was the book that started my love for science fiction and science fantasy literature.
 
The Discovery of Heaven book cover
Title: The Discovery of Heaven
Author: Harry Mulish

The concept of (a) friendship – explored through history, astronomy, mathematics, conversation, philosophy, sex and politics.
This book really is worth your time.
 
The Host book cover
Title: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer

F!ck the Twilight saga. Read this and see just how good this woman can be. This is a thoughtful novel about what defines us as ‘human’: about where ‘me’ ends and ‘other’ begins; and about the choices we make and the actions we take in light of these definitions.

The Player of Games book cover
Title: The Player of Games
Author: Iain M. Banks

There was a 10 year period where I read this book at least once a year, every year. It’s a fantastic concept beautifully and grandly executed and I discover something new every time that I read it. What’s it about? On a broad scale, it’s about cultural comparisons and how the games that we play reflect the societies we live in. On a personal scale, it’s about a man learning to appreciate his life and his world once he has travelled far from it. But then again, you might find a different interpretation – it’s that kind of book.
 
Reaper Man book cover
Title: Reaper Man
Author: Terry Pratchett

”DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED…ER…GONE.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.
Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…”

Doesn’t it make you want to go out and find out what happens next? Pratchett is magnificent at people watching and gifted in his ability to convey what he observes onto paper. You can practically see the tale he tells unfolding before you as you read along. I have freaked many people out on public transport by bursting into fits of laughter at his jokes – and watched as people subtly shifted away from me or ran gratefully to another available seat. Go ahead and befriend the people of the Disc World and learn something about yourself and the world you live in.
 

 

So what about you? What book(s) speak to you?
Do you prefer reading paper books or doing your reading using an eReader? Take the poll then feel free to leave a comment in the Comment Box below.

This piece was written and submitted as part of WordPress.com’s Weekly Writing Challenge. The writing challenges are designed to “help you to push your writing boundaries, show off your blogging chops, and, hopefully, spark more post ideas”. The posts should be specifically written in response to the challenge set.

For this week’s challenge, we were asked “How do you prefer to read, with an eReader like a Kindle or Nook, or with an old school paperback in hand? Explain your opinion by blogging about it on your site”.

You can see how other bloggers responded to the challenge, on Mind the Gap.
 

Related Posts

 
 

ugly shoes SPREAD THE WORD
If you liked this post, I mean really liked this post, why not tell your friends? You could also subscribe while you’re at it. You know, so you don’t miss anything.

AUTHOR: I am might war. I have a love of music, the written word, travel, Anime, polar bears, people and “sticking and colouring”.

8 thoughts on “Books – the ideal life

  1. Are you sure that I didn’t just write that blog post? It is me to a tee. (well, except for the library membership in three London borroughs. That would be a bit pointless for me as I live in Canberra…lol). I can easily have three or four books on the go all at once, and not get the story lines muddled up. I can read a book in a day (starting over breakfast, reading at quite times at work, finishing up in the wee hours of the morning next to a snoring husband). One book I can heartily recommend you is “The People of the Book”. by Geraldine Brooks. It’s a delightful story based on the true story of a Jewish codex saved from destruction by a muslim libriaran. Here is a link to a review/summary of this novel. I’d love you to read it, Mightwar, and tell me what you think. xo

    1. There is much pleasure in eking out a book throughout a day. You get episodes of the story line every few hours and it allows the story to ferment in your thoughts as you go about your daily business.

      Thanks for the book suggestion, it looks mighty interesting.

    1. That’s good to hear munchow. You’d think that the erasure of paper books through digital books was certain going by most news articles. I think that sometimes we jump too eagerly into our technological gadgets and forget that the effort required in doing something can be as important as the conclusion/result of that action.

  2. When I was a child (before I could read well) my parents used to take us (my brother and I) to the local library and let us pick out audio tapes with great classics like Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under The Sea’, A. Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes, Dickens, Poe and many other fantastic stories. We’d listen to them while playing, or in the car on longer drives, or even as we went to bed, and it spurred in me a love of stories and reading I have kept ever since.

    Around the age of 14-15 the English I learned in school was good enough that it allowed me to start reading in English rather than my mother tongue, Danish, and since I have come to prefer reading in English if at all possible.

    My shelves are stacked with books, many I have yet to read and more I have devoured. I cannot imagine ever getting rid of them, and your notion of travelling and trading books at hostels would just make my heart ache LOL I couldn’t give my books away, even to exchange them for other ones 🙂

    That said, since I went back to school (university) a few years back I have come to LOVE my iPad. Out of plain necessity I have had to get used to reading and making notes on it, as most of our material for classes are now distributed only in digital form and also given the long commute I have daily, having it all on the iPad just makes more sense (and literally saves me a small fortune every semester on paper text books I don’t have to buy). I do miss the bent corners and the sense of being able to follow my own progress by watching a book mark move deeper and deeper into a book – but I don’t miss the extra 5-6 pounds in my backpack daily, and I don’t miss battling with poor lighting or having to sit in a specific way to keep the book open while I read. The iPad definitely has benefits there.

    I cannot see it replacing my beloved books though. As soon as I am “reading for fun” rather than for school, the paper books are back. They are my travel buddies, my sounding board, my inspiration…

    1. Your argument for study books is a very good one as I still remember wincing heavily whilst handing over money for them – the prices for those suggest that the publishers have forgotten that most students are on very restricted budgets. 😉

      You really have to try the book exchanges as they can be such interesting reads. I’ve been introduced to many new authors and genres this way and it’s been a great source for authors from different countries. I take down the details and then see if I can get copies in English later. The best way to do this is not to travel with “special” books – the ones that you can’t be separated from.

      Now that you’re older, would you recommend audio books? A few friends have suggested this as an alternative as my illness affects my eyes, but I have been a little resistant. I’m a little worried as I wonder how hearing another’s vocal interpretation of a book will affect my experience of it. Sounds silly, I know. But it’s rather delicious to read a line from a book and be struck by what it says or its structure, and I don’t know if that translates over a recording.

Then YOU Said...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s