Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time sorting all our books in our new home library. It was an experience! I pretended I was a library monitor while I alphabetised the fiction books by author (with a little help from Mr 13 and Miss 10). I flicked through the pages of some of our books and remembered how much I enjoyed reading them. I found the books that had been signed by the author, with a message to me to keep writing. I flittered from fiction to non-fiction and then to children’s fiction. And there was so much pleasure in touching all those covers and spines and pages, noting all the different fonts for titles and author names, feeling the texture of the cover or looking closely at the images on the covers.
I kept thinking about all those hours which the writers put in to their books. All the doubts, all the fears, all the drafts, all the rejections. I’m so glad those writers kept going, persevering, writing and editing until their books were published. Imagine a world with no Harry Potter – a whole generation of kids, and probably more to come, who didn’t know about Quidditch. Think about growing up with no Famous Five books, or Trixie Belden or Anne of Green Gables or C.S. Lewis. My life would definitely be the poorer without Liane Moriarty, Liz Gilbert, Kate Forsythe, Cath Crowley, Hannah Kent … Our library holds the dreams and doubts of many, many writers.
For the first time in almost twenty years of marriage, my husband and I merged our books together. Previously, he had ‘his’ bookshelves and I had ‘my’ bookshelves. The balance of our bookshelves accurately reflects the balance of our shoes with a ratio of 2:1 – in my favour, of course! So now his Vince Flynn books sit next to my copy of Anna Funder’s All that I am and Alain de Botton’s book stands tall next to David Baldaci’s books. Hope our new bookshelf system bodes well for our next twenty years of marriage…
I have always wanted to live in a library or bookshop – and now I do! I love walking past with my arms full of washing and noticing the colour of the spines. I become easily distracted on my way to another room, when I stop in front of the shelves and pick up yet another book to put on my bedside table. The best part has been all the conversations – all our friends who have visited us in our new home have pulled out their favourite books or asked about books they haven’t read or given us names of their favourite books to read.
Run your hands over a book today – appreciate the designer who created the cover, chose the font for the title and author name, selected an image to represent the book and entice the reader, and who worked out exactly how thick the spine would be and what could possibly fit on a vertical two centimetre strip of paper. Think about the hours and hours the author spent daydreaming and writing and revising. Think about his or her face when she received the publishing contract, and think about his or her face when they saw the many comments from the editor for revising. Think about the writer’s doubts and fears and how they had to ‘screw all [their] courage to the sticking place’ to continue on, when perhaps no one was saying – please write this book. Appreciate the editor who wrote carefully worded constructive comments to bring the book into its very best shape. Think about the sales representatives who took the book into the bookshops and convinced busy shop managers to take it on. And now think about yourself as the customer, the reader, the recipient of this gift, this offering from the writer – who had an important story to share with you.
Run your hands over a book today.
Note: The quote above comes from Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
Macbeth: If we should fail?
Lady Macbeth: We fail?
But screw your courage to the sticking place,
And we’ll not fail.