“When you are with somebody you love the smallest, smallest things can be so important, so amusing because love transforms the world, everything. And was that what had happened?”
Alexander McCall Smith, The Right Attitude to Rain
Alexander (one of my favorite names!) is a prolific author and probably best known for his beloved, long-running The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series featuring adorable, amateurs sleuths, At 70, he’s still going strong. All this is wonderful, but what I’m really excited about is a long, rhapsodic paean of his to bookstores and books that published in the Scotsman and headlined, “Preserving the Pleasures of the Bookshop:”
“When real bricks and mortar booksellers disappear we are denied the chance to browse. How many times do we enter a bookshop and discover an author we’ve never heard of, or a book that we would never have thought existed but that we feel we would like to read? In a real shop, you can start a life-time love affair with the works of a newly-discovered author, obscure or well-known….
“These local bookshops, intimate in scale in an age of the big and the characterless, are little fortresses dedicated to defending an artefact that survives because we love it so much–the book. Electronic books are all very well, but you can’t touch the text; you can’t smell the paper; you can’t put it on a shelf to remind you of what it says; you can’t wrap it up and give it as a present; you can’t kiss its cover in gratitude. Actual bookshops survive because we love the physicality of the book–and want a real, physical existence rather than a virtual one. Still. Just.”
What a wonderful reminder of the endless joys of bookstore browsing and the pleasures of holding a real book in your hand. While I have friends who enjoy their Kindles and Nooks and audio books, like Alexander, I’m a pager, not a pecker. I love having my books, some battered and some with the bindings unbroken, all around me. Come to my house and you’ll see books everywhere – on shelves, in piles, on tables. I know, I know – I need a clutter consultant! Not to worry — one of my piles includes, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I plan to crack open sometime soon.
But all this just goes to say that having real books everywhere soothes and soul-satisfies me. They speak to me of joy and sorrow, of possibilities and journeys completed. So, no matter what, let’s keep going to bookstores and reading real books. And creating them. Write on!
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