Saturday, 7 January 2012

Book Junkies in the Age of the E-Book...

I just watched Julie and Julia again, and Julie's husband says to her that the great thing about a blog is that you don't - as a writer - need to worry about publishers and agents and stuff...all you have to do is write and then click 'publish'. And he's, I have to ask myself, having set up this blog six months ago, why it is that it's taken me so long to actually write the first post.

The idea of this blog was to track what I read. Why?

My younger son reads books on his mobile phone. One of my interstate friends has Kindle (that's a small tablet, right...?). A few others have iPads and get their books that way. Me, I have the real article. Lots of them. My most recent book purchase was two weeks ago, and the only reason I haven't bought any since then is that I've forced myself to walk past bookshop doorways instead of going in.

So, once again, I'm re-reading, which confounds my partner but is an activity understood by the true book junkie. I'm also comfort reading - instantly recognisable by anyone who knows both me and my book collection: White Boots and the Gemma series by Noel Streatfield. They are remarkably fresh - having been written sometime back in the late fifties, early sixties. The children are real, have tantrums and fights with each other, have goals and aspirations that they strive to achieve. They have parents who struggle to both understand children who want to do sometimes unexpected things, and how to find the funds to support their endeavours. I loved them as a kid, and from an adult perspective they still hold considerable charm.

Incidentally - I recently stumbled over a new film version of Streatfield's Ballet Shoes, with Emily Watson as Pauline. It's beautifully made so for Streatfield fans out there, go hassle your local DVD store (where I found it...) for a copy and sit down with it one weekend afternoon.

Some of my children's literature collection are my own books, kept since childhood. Others I've collected over many years since. When I'm tired, or life is particularly challenging, they are like my bread and butter pudding reading; the stories are straightforward, the issues are simple, the characters are accessible and, most importantly, everything works out OK in the end. I had a freelance writing assignment this week, coinciding with my return to work, so the books were what I picked up in between bouts of writing - the charm and innocence, coupled with lovely, quality writing offered brief periods of nurturing in between the drudgery of the assignment, but because they are so familiar, it's possible to read for ten or fifteen minutes then put them down again and get on with the work. 

I think I've had my fill of Streatfield for now, and I finished the last of the Gemma books this afternoon. I'm heading for bed soon, which means combing the bookcases for something to read before lights out.

Which takes me back to where I started with this - I can go to my bookcase and pull a book off the shelf. A book that is soft with the wear of many readings. A book that sometimes drops odd notes, loose photos or forgotten bookmarks from between its pages. A book that has a smell and feel that is familiar. I spend hours in front of computer screens for my work, and I can't imagine reading a book on a computer, a kindle, an iPad or a phone... All the protestations from my friends who do about the convenience are unlikely to convert me. I like my books. And, it's pay week next week, so I may be able to allow myself to step across the threshold of my local independent bookstore to see what new treasure might like to join the collection.


  1. I'm off to find that DVD of Ballet Shoes!!!!

  2. Ah, books are tactile creatures. The pages have textures and perfumes of their age. I have not gone the way of the computer, kindle, iPad or phone. Thank you.