I discovered that there is a useful celebration in March, and I do not think it is a chance that it sits on the calendar just before woman’s day. It is world book day and happens on the 7th of March. Or at least it happens in England on that date. I wrote about books more than once and I think I am not going to stop with this post. Why?
Books are potent things.
Unfortunately I cannot claim the copyright of this very intelligent – and true – sentence. Dr Gregory Leadbetter, Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing at Birmingham City, conceived and wrote this sentence before me it in his blog. He also brought to our attention a fascinating story that I take the initiative to report.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge told a story of the peculiar effect a volume of The Arabian Nights had upon him as a child, in the late 1770s: one tale, he writes,
Made so deep an impression on me (I had read it in the evening while my mother was mending stockings) that I was haunted by spectres, whenever I was in the dark—and I distinctly remember the anxious & fearful eagerness, with which I used to watch the window, in which the books lay—& whenever the Sun lay upon them, I would seize it, carry it by the wall, & bask, & read.
With the coming of the digital age, there is a renewed interest in books as objects: books fairs and festivals, conferences for bibliophiles – ask my friend Alessandra V, who has never been so busy working as archivist and academic in this field – are becoming hot tickets. She told me about an event where you need to bring a book, read a passage and demonstrate your walking skills – in high heels – holding a book straight on your head. Even if this is a completely differen affairs, it reinforces the idea that books are potent, and work as a focus for many things.
The cover, the feel of the pages should not be underestimated.
What not many people share, is the fact that there is also romance in the e-reader. The fact that you can be awake for many hours while your partner sleeps undisturbed is just one of many.
I leave you with a quote from Gregory Leadbetter: “Whether printed or digital, whether fictive or factual, books are portals to other worlds within our own, delivered in a uniquely intimate medium. They offer encounters with difference – a liberation from the limits of the reader’s present knowledge or present circumstances, which at the same time returns the reader to those circumstances in an altered state. Whatever their form or subject, books reveal that there is something else to see, to imagine, to question, to be. Books teach their readers that any world – including the one we walk around in, work in, worry in, laugh in, marvel in – is just one possible world.”
This is marvelous.