Monday, December 26, 2016

Books to Keep

The Christmas guests departed at 6am this morning to get ahead of the forecast storm and the Boxing day homeward rush.  The house is silent and seems somehow empty, but outside the snow flurries are blowing, there are leftovers in the fridge and there is a lot to be said for a day in which there is no need to go out, the fire is on and there are Christmas books waiting for me.

We are a bookish family.  Even the grandchildren, 10, 8 and 5, are quite content to spend the down time on Christmas Day between one meal and the next, and to fill in the pause after opening presents from Santa and before attacking the ones from family and friends with either reading or being read to - barely a tablet in sight.

Reviewing my own Christmas goodies, I was struck that the book element consisted of two fat biographies my family knows I will find interesting, an Enid Blyton spoof (Five Go to Brexit Island) and a book of entertaining cartoons.  No fiction, yet everyone knows I read more fiction than anything else.

How many people buy hardback fiction any more?   My own hardback sales rely heavily on library purchases. For myself,  I am an eclectic reader and I don't have one particular favourite author that I wouldn't be prepared to wait for until the paperback came out - or the ebook, I suppose, though if it was a book I was really looking forward to reading I'd enjoy it more in physical form. (Not since Georgette Heyer, of blessed memory.)

Perhaps it's just me.  But if books were mice, we'd have the sort of  problem that would mean calling in pest control, so  I'm very selective about the books I actually keep as opposed to recycling via a charity shop:  For me to keep one, I must know I will want to read it again, or it must have some other significance to earn a place in one of the many crowded bookcases.  It has to furnish, not just the room, but the mind as well.

One of the nicest things a reader can say to you is, 'I have all your books...'  So may 2017 be a year when we all write the books that our readers want to keep and when, with the horrors and traumas of 2016 behind us, we may be able somehow to work towards a more unified and peaceful world.   



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