Thursday, 1 October 2015

When magic pours into your eyes

What is it about the magic of books? Those of us who love them find ourselves transported to imaginary lands, we get inside people’s heads and they get inside ours. We learn from them, we are fascinated by them, those of us who are true book geeks love the feel of certain books and others are so a part of us that they are like old friends.

Where does your book love come from? A couple of weeks ago I was talking about the Ladybird books story. Since then I’ve bought 7 of them from a local bookshop; they range in age from 1956 to 1973 and what is surprising is the quality of these books. Not just the quality of the secondhand copies that I bought, but the quality of the writing and the quality of the artwork. As I browsed through my new/old purchases something magical happened; memories were stirred. Memories so real and yet not thought of for many, many years. One of the books was on cowboys and I remembered a cowboy toy I had as a child, not a Woody from ‘Toy Story’, but an Action man like figure and what reminded me of this was one picture in the Ladybird book. It was a book that I had devoured as a child and now, more than 40 years later, I was transported back in time. It took me totally by surprise.

It has continued. I remembered reading ‘Lord of the Rings’ when I worked in warehouses in the early 1980’s; I remembered sitting on a train in London reading James Clavell’s ‘Shogun’; another memory was laughing out loud on a tube train to Bill Cosby’s book on fatherhood. Or reading ‘Watch My Back’ by Geoff Thompson and thinking I couldn’t keep reading this as I had to go back to work, then realising I was self-employed and now reading was part of ‘work’.

At the moment I’m reading ‘Careless Love’ the second part of Peter Guralnick’s masterpiece on the life of Elvis Presley and I’m reminded of Jerry Hopkins biography that I read as a child so much that the spine fell off. Books, books and more books. I thumb through my shelves and see the works of Ian Fleming, Malcom Gladwell, William Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I see my friend’s books: ‘Madam’ by Becky Adams, ‘The Botty Rules’ by Nigel Botterill, ‘The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment’ by Isabel Losada and I am reminded that every one of these encouraged me to become a writer. To let my words flow from my head and onto a piece of paper that someone, somewhere would be just like me. Moved by the written word, to think “I can do this, I can write a book.” I might not be Stephen King or Dan Brown or Carlos Castenada, but my words might move someone, might affect someone, might make them laugh or make them cry.

Words are all we have and yet they are everything we need. Read more, write more, express yourself more and do it through the love of the written word.

Yours lovingly

Andy Gibney

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1 comment:

  1. One of the first books I can remember having read to me, and subsequently reading myself, was called 'Pantaloon' and I still have it. Later, I can remember sitting in the kitchen reading 'Heidi', while my mum worked around me and my brothers ignored me. Teachers at primary school encouraged me to expand into more challenging fiction and then biographies, while at senior school my love of books was enhanced by more wonderful teachers. I was lucky enough to marry a book-lover, and while our tastes don't always overlap he has pointed me in the direction of some fine stories.