Of Books

A book is a doorway to anywhere in the world and even the universe. Since I was able to read at about age five, books have provided thousands of hours of pure pleasure. What could be better than getting lost in the stories of people since time began, whether the characters and their worlds be likable, horrible, weird or just ordinary?

My idea of a great afternoon is sitting in the sun with a good book. A new and different world opens up as you wander leisurely or rocket down the pathways of a story. You might find yourself in World War II or far in the future, with favourite characters or ones that are easy to loathe. The best part is not knowing what might come next. For me a writer’s ability to keep you guessing and provide some unexpected surprises is the hallmark of a great read.

I don’t mind what genre a book is, I have and will read almost anything. My methodology for selecting books at the library is to browse the shelves and collect half a dozen assorted titles though I am guilty of taking a sneak preview to ensure I enjoy the author’s style. Then when I read a book, my own imagination takes over and colours the worlds I read about, thus personalising each one. I understand why it is very difficult for a filmmaker to come up with a universally satisfying production of a popular book because so many readers would find the film does not necessarily agree with their own mental vision of the book.

Of course your tastes change with time. Some books can appeal to a wide range of age groups, the Harry Potter series being an example of books that both children and adults can enjoy. I had a strong affinity for science fiction during high school as I found it a great antidote to the often depressing required reading curriculum. It still puzzles me why it is that happy stories are rarely considered to be great fiction, although they are at times best sellers.

Like everyone else, I have often wondered about the characters of the authors. Is their writing a reflection of who they are, what they have experienced and their views on the world, whether sunlit or stormy? Or are they able to envisage whole new worlds, simply from their imaginations without reference to reality? I sometimes feel that I know something of the writers whose books I read but that is like saying that I know the people I work with because I know their work.

Often I have a mental picture of people all over the world busy writing, formulating their contribution to the world’s literary efforts whether on paper or online. What new worlds and characters are floating around the minds of every budding author, waiting to be grasped and transformed into a book for the rest of us to enjoy? However many there are, it’s reassuring to know that the books will keep arriving.