Sunday, 6 March 2011

World Book Night ... and beyond


So, World Book Night has been and gone and lots of people bought books for other people and lots of people were given books and some people even competed with each other to see how many books they could collect for free.

Everyone had a great time, and why shouldn’t they? Books are enjoyable. Books make you feel better. Books can make you think, they can educate you, they can take you to faraway places and let you escape for a space.

So why don’t we buy more?

"Oh, because they are expensive."

Wrong. Buying a £4 Mills & Boon book is no more expensive than buying a £4 pair of stockings. Buying an £8 mass market paperback is no more expensive than buying an £8 pair of earrings. Buying a £19 hardback is no more expensive than buying a £19 bottle of nice wine.

So if it isn’t cost, what is it? Could it be because a book is visible evidence forever that you have spent money ENJOYING YOURSELF?

Think about it. Tights get ladders and holes and are thrown away. Earrings are small and easily hidden in the secret earring stash (everyone has a secret earring stash, right?). Wine is even better - it gets flushed through the alimentary system within 24 hrs and the bottle consigned to the recycling bin.

But a book is there forever. Proof that you have spent money on yourself. Proof that you have enjoyed yourself for a whole two, three, four hours. Proof that you have sat down and read instead of ironing or gardening or dusting or any of the other chores that we spend our lives avoiding.

Is that it? Well, there’s an easy solution - borrow a book from the library. You can return the evidence as soon as you’ve read it. Or treat a book as a throwaway: put it in the recycling bin along with your daily paper.

But maybe, just maybe, we should nail our colours to the mast. Stand up straight and tall and announce to the world that

There really isn’t anything wrong with it, you know.


Kath T said...

Hi, have only just starting reading you blog and is a fantastic read in it's self.

I agree thoroughly agree with view on the buying and reading of books. I just couldn't face life without them. I was beginning to think it was a lost art, but after reading some of the posts about WBN feel quite uplifted. Also I would like to add when it comes to buying books there are also discount book shops and charity book shops.

I feel that there is quite a lot of snobishness about books with people insisting that the classics, orange/whitbread/whatever winners or nominees are the only books to read. This is totally wrong, some of the best books I've read have certainly not been on any top 10's but have been a very good read.

I certainly do love reading.

Lesley Cookman said...

Kath, it's lovely to hear that you love reading, but on an author's blog best not to suggest charity shops - we don't make any money from those, and this is our day job!

Lovely post Jan. May I share it on FB and Twitter?

Lesley x

Effie said...

There aren't many rooms in our house without books - we even have some in the toilet.
I've asked, when in a friend's house, where are the books?
Too me, a life without books is a life without imagination. But I'm one of the converted - always was. When I stayed with my grandparents we would spend the week going to every library in town (there were five at least) to try to find the books grandad hadn't read.
I really must stop buying so many - I enjoy myself far too much and my to be read pile is huge - and forever growing.

I agree with everything you say Jan. Well said.

Debs Carr said...

I love books and I'm sure one day they'll take over my entire house. I can't imagine ever being without one and the first and most important thing I ever pack when going away are my books.

Jan Jones said...

Hi Kath T - nice to see you here. So glad you like the blog. I don't care what people read as long as they aren't ashamed of it :)

Hi Lesley, thanks, love - yes, please do share!

Hi Effie - I somehow KNEW your house would look like that...

A woman after my own heart, Debs. I always pack books first and remember clothes later

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I completely agree, society seems to have backed itself into a corner. It places far too much emphasis on tangible evidence of achievement and success and not enough on things which expand the mind, rather than the bank balance. I'm sad to say, if I visit a house without books, I make an instant assumption about its residents!

Jo said...

I love this blog post and the comments that follow. I have a house crammed full of books, most of which I've purchased. I do have a book buying obsession! I adore reading. I have learned so much about the craft of writing simply by reading novels and short stories (and not just the good ones!). I justify my book buying by saying to myself, 'It's only a fiver!'. What other things could you spend £5 on that give hours and hours of pleasure?

Chris Stovell said...

So true!!