Books Are Old Friends

Books are sensory objects – they have a pleasing look, a comforting smell, a grainy feeling, a reassuring weight. The best-loved ones are battered, dog-eared, coffee-stained, inscribed. You can lend a book, read it everywhere, stow it anywhere, hide treasures in it.  A book carries memories with it, locked into untold brain networks by all the experiences you had when reading it:

And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it.― Cornelia Funke (Inkheart)

A book works at my speed, comfortable and slow, faster when I want it to be, then slow again. Many of my books are old friends.– Jack Lasenby (interview here).

When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic. And for this serious task of imaginative discovery and self-discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.– Julian Barnes

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7 Responses to “Books Are Old Friends”

  1. Mike Crowl Says:

    You forgot to mention reading a book in the bath….one of life’s great joys!

  2. Raymond Says:

    Indeed, although a few of my books have not survived that particular joy.

  3. Penelope Says:

    It remains to be seen how long and in what form ebooks will survive, and how or whether memories will attach to the reading device or the digitally read story . . . (perhaps I should conduct a survey).

  4. Raymond Says:

    Good idea. For ebooks there must still be a strong element of attachment to a great story. But will it last as long and long enough for there to be ebook ‘classics’? Lasenby says he ‘lets time do the winnowing’ for him.

  5. Zireaux Says:

    A lover of books, yes, but undisputed champion when it comes to spinning them on my finger. From thick paperbacks to flimsy childrens’ books to gargantuan coffee-table tombs, they can helicopter atop my skyward-pointing digit in perpetual momentum, like the spinning plates of a circus act.

    Have yet to find the necessary bravado, however, to attempt the same stunt with an iPad.

    A review of E.B. White’s essays I think you’d enjoy:
    http://immortalmuse.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/one-man’s-meat-by-e-b-white-harper-row-c1944-republished-by-tilbury-house-1997-279-pages/

    -Z

  6. Raymond Says:

    Ta Z, I found the book One Man’s Meat in the public library and I’m loving it. Will attempt to spin it after reading.

  7. Peter Millett Says:

    Books are definitely old friends. When you return to them after a few decades it’s like opening a time capsule. So many memories flood back. Also kids love to show their progress to others of how much they’ve read so far in a book. They stake the bookmark proudly into the chapter like a flag at Antarctica. It’s unlikely you’ll hear a child cry – ‘Look Gran, I’m 29 % done.’

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