Booklovers of the world unite...

October 6, 2014 by Ray Morgan

The idiosyncratic tales of Ray Morgan continue with this relfective blog about books...what they used to mean and where we're at now!

Beside my bed is a heap of books, spines uncracked, pages smooth as silk, piled in an order of What To Read Next. Atop this pile is my current read, picked up in those snatches of time before bed, or on a lazy Sunday morning with a cup of tea. In the bedroom are three laden bookcases, younger brothers of the big boys in the lounge, boasting everything from hard-backed biographies to graphic novels through to well-thumbed Harry Potters and faded classics.

In short, I love books.

I love receiving them, giving them, opening them and giving the pages a good sniff. When I was a commuter, despite hating my job and all the travelling, the only joy was the solid 2 hours of reading time I'd get each day. Once, trapped in the confines of the Leigh-to-Fenchurch Street line, I read a whole book in a single day.

Most of my childhood memories involve books: Mum reading Anne of Green Gables to me, and crying so much in the last chapter that I had to read it for her. Dad reading a funny story about a girl who grew up in a bakery, and doing all the silly voices, making me howl. My sister and I sharing Topsy & Tim books, and still quoting from them today ("My swallow hurts" is still used by us when we're ill, thanks Tansy, adopted sister of those pesky twins). I even worked in a bookshop, Grindley's on Leigh Broadway if any of you remember it, RIP.

So when I go on trains to London now, I'm saddened to be faced with a sea of free papers, poorly written, Candy Crush, BBC iPlayer, tablets, phones, or tired eyes staring into space. Yes, a book can be heavy to lug around, but it can transport you. It can make you forget about the man next to you eating Nice'n'Spicy Nik Naks at 8am and take you to a sweltering summer in the Deep South, a research facility in Svalbard, a pet shop in the 1950s.

Yes, you can read on a tablet or phone. But the romance, the romance is in the pages. Nestled between the words. In the message scribbled in the front, whether it's for you, or someone in the past if your book is second hand. In the smell of the book. Come on, book buyers unite! Put down the screen! WE CAN DO THIS! Give books as gifts for Christmas, and pass on the joy. The book industry is depending on you.

My top 5 bookish things:

1. Penguin Classics - a design that will never age. Beautiful
2. Browsing in the hushed quiet of a good bookshop
3. Libraries! For goodness' sake the books are FREE!
4. When you buy a second hand book and it says something brilliant in the front like "Beryl, I had to buy this for you after the Canadian incident! - Pam" *imagination goes haywire*
5. Hermione Granger. Just saying.


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