Breathing Books

Books are wondrous little creatures that peer at me from my stacked shelves. I know the intricate coats and hearts of many of them, while some still stare with alluring titles from their shrouds of mystery. It is a common stereotype that when exceptionally elated or deflated, women shoe-shop as a symbolic celebration or consolation. My footwear comfortably alternates between two pairs of handmade leather boots or going barefoot – one of the joys of being a student in a tiny town. However, I do have a guilty pleasure, the bookcase in my room bursting with the evidence – I consume books.

Once or twice – okay, maybe three or so times – when caught in the extremities of emotion and retail-therapy being the preferred prognosis, I have lost hours teeming over jackets of a less fashionable nature. I have pored over crisp covers in tidy rows, their unbent spines and clean pages shimmering with untold hope and answers. I have waded through musty and forgotten treasure troves – cramped, elongated bookstores, magically squashed into the gap between two buildings and spiralling upwards. Church fairs tumble with heaps of discarded novels – there is an abundance of hay, but there are equally many needles.

My love of literature was somewhat inevitable - the study in my childhood home is lined wall-to-wall with bookshelves.

My love of literature was somewhat inevitable – the study in my childhood home is lined wall-to-wall with bookshelves.

I have always adored books – freshly pressed or falling to pieces, they are enticing. Something about them appeals to my every sense. They are tactile, tangible, you can taste them on your breath – the masterful offering of artists who paint infinity right before you, in colours you had never dreamt of. Since I was a girl, I have carried books with me like my grandmother carries her lipstick and a warrior does a shield. I won’t be caught dead without a book in my bag. They are amulets – they protect and they guide.

They are also crafty critters. I have firmly felt throughout my life that the perfect book has always arrived precisely on time, and usually brought flowers. By some divine law, the teacher appears when the student is ready, and books are some of the wisest teachers of all. They are the wisdoms of people shared and passed down. As each page turns, you embark one step further on your journey with this contained universe, its inhabitants and its lessons. They allow me to accompany and walk with them, so I tend to reciprocate and take my books travelling too. They are my talismans against boredom, my treasured teachers and patient companions.

There is a place of complete tranquillity; where the light filters in so silently you can see its golden particles glinting in the lingering air. When you breath, it smells as ancient as the Earth, it tastes as still as time. Stretching up towards the sun, further than the eye can see in all directions are carved shelves of the oldest wood. The ornate home of all the knowledge of the witnessing world – books upon millennia of books – a veritable kaleidoscope spiralling serenely outwards. I have visited this place many times in my dreams. I like to believe there is a section of Heaven, of the spirit world if you will, where this infinite crystal room hangs like a star, twinkling in the night sky.

Follow this link for my Storify curation for the visual and inspiration of my book appreciation.


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