“When I read a book, I put in all the imagination I can, so that it is almost like writing the book as well as reading it - or rather, it is like living it. It makes reading so much more exciting, but I don't suppose many people try to do it.” - Dodie Smith, I Capture The Castle
Today is World Book Day, and here is where I show my everlasting Geek Girl status by saying, in an annoyingly loud voice,
Because, more than anything else in the world, excepting perhaps the Man Who Vaguely Resembles David Tennant...
I love books.
Books rock. Like a rocky thing.
The quote from I Capture The Castle (which, not altogether surprisingly, is one of my all time 'can read again and again, never get tired of it, go to when I can't sleeps' favourites) sums up perfectly what books mean to me.
When I read them, I am a part of them, and they are a part of me.
Books are an escape and a fantasy. They are a way of living out our wildest dreams without leaving the comfort of our bed on a cold yucky winter morning. They're a way to drown out the snores and snarkles of the very large gentleman next to us on the long flight from X to Y. They are, when we are younger, often a way to make the best of what can be a scary place - the playground - when we don't quite fit in.
They make us laugh and cry. They make us look nervously over our shoulders to see if the bad man has managed to jump out of the pages somehow (I don't know about you, but this has not been restricted to my childhood. Hannibal Lecter's creator, Thomas Harris, and of course the ScareMeister Stephen King, have a LOT to answer for).
We cheer for the good guys. We take the second star to the right, and play Pooh Sticks with Christopher Robin. We know what Katy Did (or Didn't?). We watch the Little Women become bigger - with that tearful, tragic exception - and we go through the Wardrobe with Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan.
We return with the King and Samwell Gamgee. We listen to Atticus defend Tom with every fibre of his being, while Scout, Dill and Jem play at being Boo Radley. And we all know that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Especially if he looks like Darcy.
We do these things time and time again. Why? Because books are magic. Even if they aren't inherently about boy wizards.
I gobble up books like they are my last meal as a condemned prisoner - it has been this way for me since I first started chewing on the corner of what was probably a very valuable piece of literary real estate. I become the protagonist of every book I read. I was Jo getting her hair cut off to raise money to get Marmee to March and I certainly resembled Pippi Longstocking far more than I would care to remember. I was definitely naughty Katy before she became good Katy, although these days I now understand more about her 'house of pain' than I ever would have dreamed. Jane Eyre's look of patient forebearing had nothing on me when I was in a snit. And as for The Wind In The Willows...
Definitely Ratty, with his dreams of the Wide, Wide World.
Although I completely get Toad's thing for motorcars.
The wonderful thing is, books are forgiving. They don't care whether or not you read weighty great classics on a daily basis. They just want to be read. The Collected Works of Pliny the Elder aren't going anywhere; if what floats your boat is vampires and werewolves and shifters (oh my!) then who cares? Pliny probably would have quite enjoyed them too, the old bugger. The point is to feed your imagination. George R R Martin has done a wonderful thing with Game of Thrones; he has brought reading not to a new generation of children, but to a new adult audience, and love him or hate him, as a reader you have to respect him.
I love books. It's that simple, and that complicated. And one day they will probably bankrupt me.
But by that stage, I will most likely be able to build a house out of them, I will have so many -
So at least David T and I will have somewhere to live.