Streetwalking is all very well, but what if the streets are full of people who get their news from ‘influencers’ who’ve never read a book? You can tell who they are as you pass them - the too, too easily influenced, their eyes blooded with borrowed rage, their faces blank with the know-nothingness of the bookless.
Share your heart for books Howard. We had shelves and shelves of them, mostly read by me, but with a children’s section. Our big downsize move to a tiny cottage meant we had to let them go... not all but at least two thirds. We had a sale, we distributed to friends, we took boxes to Oxfam and the Salvation Army, it felt like a betrayal but when done, I felt lighter. I carried those books, their stories, inside. They’d rejigged my cells and printed upon me each in their own way. Of course I’ve since built up a collection of books at the cottage, they sit all over: in the shed, the Annexe and in cupboards, there’s no wall space for shelves. At the end of every year, I wrap in brown paper and Christmas tape, that year’s reading collection and leave them on the benches and window ledges around our town. A gift. It feels good, as you say, someone else is turning the pages and losing themselves in a story. Once a collector, always a collector.♥️
You are definitely a man after my own heart, book wise I mean. And street walking wise as well. Very glad to hear you’re hanging on to hard copies. I picture you in an Oxford Street coffee shop with a book in hand contemplating your world.
Makes me feel a bit better about all those books in storage back in Britain, for a decade now.
All the best, from Chiang Mai
"Books breathe as trees breathe. When all the books have gone our mental climate will have changed."
Man cannot survive on memes and twits alone...
A good second hand bookshop is a treasure trove!
"What you can't bend or throw or write on isn't, in the end, literature."
Does that apply to Substack?
I began acquiring books after my father died. I was 16. I am now 40 and am still buying/adopting them, mostly second hand, and don’t know that they will all be read, at least not by me. But they remain the greatest companions, and comforts, of my life.
All book collectors have a special place in my heart (and the word). Have you watched the documentary on Umberto Eco’s book collection? A true wonder.
There are times when one can stumble upon a book and just by holding it know it’s your ‘child’ and you dutifully cart it home to safety. May a kindred soul(s) rescue them after I am gone and commit to their stewardship. It is people of this kind I know I’d like to sit around a dinner table with for eternity... imagine the stories we could share. God bless and keep you, and your treasures, and May another generation realize our efforts were ahead of their time... for in a world of digital words that can be altered and erased- books and their meaning cannot be denied what’s in black and white held in your own hands.
Matthew Arnold, John Morley, Christina Rossetti, the English Men of Letters series, even F Marion Crawford....The Hous eof Macmillan must count you as one of its great supporters! I hope you can add my biography of the Macmillan Brothers to your shelf when it comes out next year...