‘I have books, New books. And I can bear anything as long as there are books’ Morwenna Phelps.

I saw this quotation on an interesting WordPress blog: Books, and it got me thinking about just how much we as a race and I as an individual owe to books.

Of course, being a blog post, I could craft this into some sort of academic essay but I think a blog should sometimes be a little more honest than that as it has its roots in a ‘log’ – a record of events as they occur and my thoughts as they occurred ran thus:

How I love new book smell. I look fondly at the pile of unread books on my nightstand. New has always had positive connotations – just look at ‘New year’ and books are no different. Of course, New doesn’t have to mean brand new. It can just mean New to you or me. A book from the library that has been touched and read and enjoyed by countless borrowers can still hold all the promise of New to someone reading it for the first time.  A new book can be one picked up from a thrift store or a charity shop or a jumble sale, and still retain its magic.

Part of a book’s power is in its ability to transport someone to a completely different place, time, and even dimension, while their corporeal form remains in situ.  Two weeks before Christmas, I called my class to attention at the end of their quiet reading time, only to have to gently prod M out of this other world.

“Oh!” he said, smiling up at me, “I’m sorry, Miss – I was in the jungle!”

That immediately prompted an unplanned but thrilling discussion with my young charges about where they had been during the last half an hour.

“I was in space!” grinned E.

“I was starting a new school,” said G.

“Timbuktu!”

“America – at a freak show!”

“Australia!”

On and on it went, as each student, thrilled to realise they had been somewhere entirely different to their classmates, eagerly shared their adventures.  Last but by no means least, I turned expectantly to our LSA.

“I was in the cosmos,” he smiled, blushing slightly at the awe with which our children then turned to regard him.  None of them had yet adventured into the cosmos and they wanted to find out all about it.

In all the years I’ve been striving to find ways to inspire children and young adults to read, none had been so effective as that one spontaneous conversation.  Now I hear them eagerly discussing where their next adventure will take place as they settle into their seats, pulling their books out of their bags and not needing to be told even once to start their private reading.

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As a teenager, books provided me with friends to adventure with, colleagues with whom I could negotiate the stormy waters of adolescence, and companions in times of sadness.  Yes, books have also caused me one or two issues – romanticised ideas regarding “looks” or “squeezing of the hand” meant that much of the communication I should have used words for in my first relationship was probably missed by my boyfriend, but all in all, books have provided me with wisdom, joy, solace and adventure.

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As an adult, books have continued to be a constant companion.  They provide distraction from the trials and mundaneness of everyday life.  They provide guidance and education and experiences.  I have just read “The Great Christmas Knit Off” which made me laugh aloud – how rarely does that happen for us adults?  Last night I downloaded, with great excitement, “The Joy of Tidying Up” – the latest step in my movement towards being the best version of myself.  After the mindfulness course is complete, I fully intend to read “Calm” and “Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to finding Peace in a Frantic World”.

As an educator of young minds, books are an invaluable tool, both for my students and for myself when planning lessons.  Books enable people to share ideas and history and scientific facts.

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Books have helped nations come together and have healed gaps between generations – how many grown men and women had the Harry Potter series for their daily commute (albeit with the grown-up dust jackets)?

For me, absolutely nothing in the technological world holds for me the same draw and power as a book.

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I can bear anything if I have books.

 

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