My mum used to get really mad in the mornings before we went to school. Both my sister and I would arrive at the breakfast table, armed with our books, and read over our cereal and toast. She couldn't get a word out of us. Poor woman!
She would complain to all and sundry that her girls constantly had their heads stuck in books. It was a valid complaint. But there was a hint of pride in there too (or so I would like to believe). She came to books later in life. And my dad is not a book man at all. Leaving them to wonder about the source of our obsession.
I have no explanation. As far as I remember, I have always had a book in my hand. And the obsession has never left me. Or my sister, come to that. I also have no excuse. It's a wonderful obsession. If a tad rude, at times.
In those early years, Enid Blyton was my heroine. Brer Rabbit. The Enchanted Wood. The Secret Seven. The Naughtiest Girl in the School.
The Enchanted Wood series was my absolute favourite. I dreamed of meeting Moon-Face, Silky, Saucepan; making toffee and eating those pop biscuits; the slippery slip, Dame Washalot, the lands on the cloud at the top of the Faraway Tree. What an imagination. What a refuge she gave us.
I still have some of those books, would you believe. They still make me smile. Not that I'm reading them today, you understand. Honestly.
It's just that they still smell of my childhood. With my name scrawled childishly inside the cover. Books give you that. So much more than just the story.
I have tons of books. Filling my shelves, channelling a warm, cosy atmosphere into the home environment. So many people and experiences and history waiting to be discovered. And to be remembered. I love the feel of a book in my hand, running the pages through my fingers to find my place, seeing how far I still have to go. It's an entire experience in itself. Hence my reluctance in the face of Kindle and co.
I don't object. I'm just digging in my heels for a while longer. I can see the benefits, of course. Especially having moved home so many times, travelled my share of air miles and, most particularly, now that my shoulder is out of order (if only temporarily). I'm trying to be as gracious to new technology as possible. Moving with the times. If only in first gear.
All the same, in contrast to my books, Kindle and the like strike me as a just a bit cold and uninviting in all their glory. And just think, Kindle on the book shelf...