Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What books mean to me

Ever since I was able to hold a book in my teeny hands I've been a reader. I suppose I was lucky in the fact that both my parents and both my sisters shared the love of the printed word. Our tastes of course varied greatly, but there was always a sense of sharing when we'd discuss the books we'd just read.
Although I poo-pooed my little sister's choice of Enid Blyton as her favourite author - I was more into Edgar Rice Burroughs and the adventures of Dan Dare  - I have to admit to pinching the odd copy of The Famous Five for a quick read. Nowadays Miss Blyton is considered by some to have been politically incorrect and even a bit racist in her observation of some characters, but in those good old days when we weren't aware of such things it was just rollicking good fun. Teasing Georgina because she preferred pants to skirts and wanted to be called George was just that - good fun. I've wondered since just how well adjusted Georgina would have been later in life.
Anyone remember Dennis Wheatly? He wrote stories with a paranormal twist which I enjoyed immensely, but if ever there was a homophobe it was our Dennis. At the age of ten I didn't quite get the inferences, but later when my own sexual identity became clearer to me, I worried about passages about "corrupt Nazi officers inflicting repulsive caresses on young men". For a while there I equated villains with homosexuals which I think was his intent. Oh well, you do tend to get over these things after a while.
Like Lisabet, when Phil and I made our move to San Diego recently, the apartment being smaller than our house, I had to ditch a ton of books - well, I gave them to the library or the Goodwill - so not really ditching them, but boy, it was hard to decide what to part with. The good thing is I can replace them with ebook copies on my Nook, so they're not entirely lost to me - but as cliched as this has become, there really isn't anything that can replace the feel of a book, the smell of ink and paper, even the mustiness of older copies. Books have been a major part of my life, more important than films or the telly certainly, and I get to work in a bookstore five days a week.  Life is good.
Sorry, this has been a bit rambly. Must be the time of year. Merry Christmas all!


  1. Can't say that I'm familiar with many of the authors you mention, JP except E.R. Burroughs, of course.

    I really get what you mean when it comes to books, though. Grand personal libraries, especially of reference materials, are losing ground to just tapping a few key words into a computer.

    Hey- And you're a neighbor. I'm just above SF. I used to do antiques shows down there. If you ever get to the bay area, drop a line.

    Merry Christmas, all...

  2. Both Blyton and Wheatley were English authors which might explain your not being familiar with them although Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out was made into a movie, I think in the sixties. Love being back in California, and today the temp was 77F. You gotta love it!

  3. Hi, JP,

    These days, aside from the volumes with - um - historical significance, I ditch anything that I know I can easily replace. It's the obscure stuff that I tend to keep.

  4. Enid Blyton was still wildly popular with the young in the 1970s when I spent a year in England, though I had the impression that some of the contents of her books were becoming Politically Incorrect even back then. I had a book by Dennis Wheatley at one time, though I think it mysteriously disappeared. (Maybe the Devil rode out to take it back.)
    You've given us an interesting list of reading-matter.


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