I have loved books, especially fiction, since I was very young.
My mother taught me how to read but was told off for it by teachers when I started school because she hadn’t done it in the correct way. I think these days she’d probably be given a medal. Mind, with all the issues in the news recently, I sometimes wonder how any of us of a certain age ever made it through the 1970s!
Certainly I don’t regret Mum teaching me to read. Indeed I owe her a huge debt of thanks for this alone as without this special gift there is no way I could compile a Top 10 list of books.
A lifetime of reading generally starts young.
The joy of reading and, later, writing my own stories is immense and without the love of books in the first place, I doubt if I’d be writing stories at all.
You have to have that spark which comes from reading something wonderful and then realising you’d like to have a go.
My top ten reasons to love books are:
- You can visit any era, country or world (real or otherwise) at your convenience and without leaving a comfy chair. Even Doctor Who can’t do that. He needs the Tardis.
- The range of topics covered by either fiction or non-fiction is truly breathtaking.
- There is always the joy of re-reading an old favourite and/or author. For me, this means re-reading Terry Pratchett, P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen in particular. I’m also fond of Agatha Christie and find TV and radio adaptations make me then re-read the original books. I must confess I’ve not read any Dorothy L Sayers but the Radio 4 Extra adaptations of her Lord Peter Wimsey stories are wonderful. The radio adaptations have Ian Carmichael in the lead role, with Peter Jones (of Just a Minute and the Rag Trade fame) as Bunter, his butler. (There is more than a nod to Jeeves and Wooster here).
- This joy can only be topped by discovering a new favourite book and/or author. This means having whole new worlds of stories to explore for the first time (which will, hopefully, go on to become much loved favourites). My most recent new-to-me discovery is Jasper Fforde, especially his police procedurals featuring DI Jack Spratt.
- Books as a form of entertainment are relatively cheap. And then there are the different formats. There’s bound to be at least one to suit you.
- You look intellectual when you’re reading! (It helps if, like me, you also wear glasses. They give gravitas). Okay this is not the world’s best reason for loving books but I thought I would throw this in as I like looking intellectual, some of the time anyway!
- Books are a wonderful form of escapism and you can tailor your reading to suit your mood. It probably says something for me that I love humorous literature so much. (Well when the real world is violent, sad and depressing, name a better form of escapism that is legal, you can’t overdose on it, nor does it make you put on weight and so far you can’t be stopped by the authorities for being “over the limit” on books!).
- There are truly beautiful books out there so those that like aesthetics will find something to please. And then there is something amazing about seeing early editions of classic novels. I find those awe inspiring. Good books last.
- While those of us still lucky enough to have libraries realise that luck and make the most of it, books are one of the few forms of entertainment where you can borrow them, decide if you like them and then make a purchase or not. It’s a good way of testing a new author out. You always learn something from a book even if it is you discover you don’t like it!
- And you’re not limited to the “classic” formats of paperback and hardback either, whether you purchase or borrow. Libraries have offered ebooks and audio books as well for some time now. My favourite format is paperback and I was pleased to discover Michael Morpurgo’s Radio 4 Extra programme about his late father-in-law, Allen Lane of Penguin, to whom a great debt is owed for getting books out to the public in general (and via paperback in particular).
Chandler’s Ford Library
Chandler’s Ford library also offer the chance to borrow emagazines (as well as traditional print ones), DVDs and CDs.
I think this range of formats enhances the library (and its chance of survival) as the more people of all ages they can attract through their doors the better. This in turn is more likely to happen if people know they will find a format they like or take the opportunity to test a format via the library before committing to it at home.
There are also computers, photocopiers and scanners available and wifi for public use so libraries are adapting to meet changing technologies. They just need more support.
Chandler’s Ford Library: Grade II listed building status
And I was surprised and pleased to see our lovely library has been recently awarded Grade II Listed Building status. See the link taken from the BBC News website (Entertainment and Arts). I very much hope this award strengthens Chandler’s Ford Library in terms of its ability to survive.
I also like the way libraries have a range of events to draw people in as well as offering a place for clubs and societies to meet. I make no apology for the shameless plug for our library as I think we lose something of our soul as a nation with every library that is shut down, bookshop which fails and so on. Books, to me, are as necessary to the soul as food and drink are to the body.
Newsagents and bookshops are amongst my favourite places to visit as I love magazines almost as much as I love books.
Online book buying has had a major impact of course but I think there is some backlash as independent book shops especially have unique qualities to draw people in and are a huge support to local authors trying to get established. I think this is beginning to be realised and “exploited” more and I hope that trend continues.
Yes, I have used online book shopping and found this useful for obtaining a long out of print book I needed for some background reading to help me flesh out the world of my stories. But I do not want to see online shopping as the only way to get books (or magazines).
Bookshops are vital. There is very little to beat the experience of happily browsing book shelves, discovering something you like and buying a wonderful new story to enjoy. (And if you have come from the library having carried out some research into a new-to-you author first, even better!).
Supporting Chandler’s Ford author Richard Hardie
I came across a bookshop blog which goes into some specifics about attracting customers which I found fascinating to read from both a potential buyer’s and local author’s viewpoints. And while this particular blog is Australian based, the principles hold true worldwide.
Where would we be without books and stories? The country’s economy would be severely damaged for one thing. How many millions come into the UK economy as a result of:-
- book sales
- people visiting say Stratford-on-Avon as a result of Shakespeare’s output
- broadcasters earning money via book adaptations for radio and TV and so on (both within the UK and exporting programmes around the world).
- someone has to write those stories behind our TV and radio dramas which don’t originate from novels. How many of these programmes are then exported around the world, bringing in income?
- Jobs within publishing, the library system, teaching creative writing etc where people are working and paying taxes into the overall system, again benefitting the economy.
- People visiting theatres and cinemas to “see” stories for themselves. How much does London’s West End’s Theatreland bring into the UK?
So why do you like books then? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why?
Note: Don’t miss Allison’s next post on Friday 14th August 2015.
Visit Allison Symes’ website: Fairytales with Bite
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