11 February 2011


Today my new Arabic Language book arrived. :-) I needed a new one because Hanna and I have booked ourselves in to go back to Krefeld to continue our Arabic language study after almost a year away. Do you like books? I love them. In fact I should not really be allowed into bookshops any more, for I find a book bargain one of the hardest things to resist. 

When I was still living the gypsy life and moving every 18 months or so, I would throw away books as well as quite a lot of other "unessential" things. Who decides what is unessential? 

When I was 12, before yet another move, my mother made me get rid of my fleet of AIR-FIX WWII aeroplanes which hung from the ceiling in my room. Each one had been lovingly made and painted by me. She complained they collected dust, but my 12 year old brain never saw any. So I took them all up to the 4th floor of the block of flats we lived in at the time, cut holes in the fuselages, stuffed these with cotton wool, impregnated them with lighter fluid lit them and threw them off one by one, to die a glorious death on the concrete 4 floors below.

I remember well too, discovering at the same time (aged 12) my parents version of "Lady Chatterly's Lover" by DH Lawrence between the sheets in the linen cupboard which fortuitously was just outside the bathroom. When home alone I would take it and lock myself into the bathroom to read it. Strangely like my aeroplanes this book never made it to the next place we moved to.

Books, before a move, were discarded in a more inglorious fashion by throwing them in the dustbin! Today it seems a sacrilege to do such a thing, rather like Hitler burning books which people should not read. So now that I am settled and do not intend to move my humble abode, I keep every book and lots of other things as well.

I believe each of us go through phases in life, as adults just as much as children. The phases in my life are mirrored in the books I have. They say that ones home is a window to the soul. Well a home without a book is to my mind a soulless home. So there are books on; riding; mountaineering, that is rock climbing and snow and ice climbing; shooting and hunting with guns; survival; ocean sailing; the history of seafaring; cooking; world history; military history; teddy bears (I collect them) travel; photography; poetry; Shakespeare; English literature; opera; music; encyclopaedias; Arabic and Arabic history; and religion to name but the most important to me still.

Some of my books are very special, like the three books I received as prizes at school for doing well in geography, biology and the German language. Or the 2 books on riding given to me in Salzburg where I learnt to ride. Or the Koran given to me by a friend in Cairo. In fact I have two copies, but this one is very special as it not only contains the original Arabic plus English translation, but the phonetic version, just in case you do not read Arabic but want to read the Koran aloud in Arabic. Others are old like the very large 150 year old copy of the Bible and the St James version of the Book of Common Prayer. 

Then there are the many novels which lie three deep on my shelves. Here my taste is eclectic. I read Maeve Binchy as avidly as Alexander Kent. In fact I am reading her book "Firefly Summer" at the moment and loving every minute of it. The book I read before that was "Hitler, a Study in Tyranny" by Alan Bullock, which I found interesting and enlightening. My next book to read will be the German version of "Sorry Columbus" by Heinke Sudhoff about the discovery of America before 1492! 

I dare say that a younger modern person might tell me that I no longer need the space for all these books.With an iPad in my hand I would have the whole library of Alexandria and every other library for that matter at my disposal.Tthis may well be true, but it is the sheer pleasure I get in owning a good book that can't be beat by an iPad..

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