Once there, it is perhaps inevitable that I gravitate immeditately towards Waterstones.
One of my many New Year's Resolutions is to 'Sell, Don't Buy Books!' I had been doing well at trying to resist buying more books. That is, until I was arrested by this title:
STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND READ THIS!
I saw it on a display rack, read the blurb and bought it instantly. And I am not a compulsive shopper (the opposite, in fact).
Vintage Books have compiled ten essays by established authors and advocates of reading. Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, Michael Rosen et al. offer their views on the value, the purpose & the pleasure of reading books. Their arguments interlink and veer off in unique directions.
I ordered a small cappucino and sat by the window that overlooks Bridlesmith Gate, and couldn't put the book down for over an hour. I started with Zadie Smith, then moved to Blake Morrison, and then I jumped to the back to read Jeanette Winterson, Dr Jane Davis (in that order) before finishing with Michael Rosen (I have yet to read the rest...). Here are some thoughts, so far...
- Zadie Smith's piece, 'Library Life' furnishes the campaign against the coalition's closure of local libraries. The brevity of this piece leaves the reader wanting to hear more from Smith (who is a fine essayist as those who have read 'Changing My Mind: Occassional Essays' will know), but the length is apt for a piece that powerfully articulates the importance of local libraries, the need for a private space, for silence. She attributes the Willesden Green Library as a place where she gained her first experience of having 'somewhere to study, because you have chosen to, with no adult looking over your shoulder and only other students for support.' Her literary success is a testament to the importance of having libraries on our children's doorsteps.
- Blake Morrison's essay offers a really extensive and beautiful description of the experience of reading as one that offers escapism, requires ownership, leads to appropriation, and provides forbidden pleasures.