For as long as I can remember, books have played a vital part in my life. They have been as important as water, oxygen or exercise, from fairy tales to Beatrix Potter, JK Rowling and on towards Sherlock Holmes, and more modern sleuths and a variety of other characters from all different time periods have enriched my life as I march along beside them, partaking in their challenges.
Some books have fallen naturally into my hands, whether it be an interest in the genre, a recommendation, gift or just a spur of the moment purchase. Others have been introduced to me through studies, and warmly welcomed into my world, into my family of books. I still have some of these first copies, stained, well-read and in some cases with pages falling out – a sign that the book is truly loved. However, there have been some books that I resisted reading for whatever reason, whether it be the “But everyone is reading it” line, or the “Oh but you liked this and so and so, so therefore you will like this,” or whether it was just assumed I would based on age, gender or prior loves of popular culture. One of these books I resisted for as long as I could in spite of incessant hounding was Harry Potter. Until a friend said to me that she’d read a book I had just finished if I read that, I did not want to read it, or at least wanted to come around to it in my own time, which I did. Now, you would not dare argue anything about it with me. It has a loving home in my heart, alongside Narnia, and its own shelf. There have been other books, like Twilight, I refuse to touch, because of assumptions made based upon my age and gender that I would like it, and having spoken to some people, have heard things that turned me off of it. It is in the class of books I feel that I will never pick up.
As an avid reader, over about twenty years, I have read 727 books to date, and the list keeps on growing. It is possible that over the years I have lost some titles that may never be recovered, and that I have read more than the 727. Of course, out of these 727, I have read and re-read favourites like Narnia, Harry Potter and The Secret Garden many, many times alongside new books discovered each day, week, and month.
Through reading, I can travel without my passport and visa, via book or eBook. I can visit a new world by falling head first into a wardrobe full of fluffy fur coats, by running head on at the invisible barrier or even just travel back in time to a war, or another century where things seemed simpler, less complicated by the technology that exists in our lives (and also has a place in modern books) today. I fight alongside heroes against tyrants, feel the pain when a loved one dies. I can hurl myself into history, back to the Roman Empire, or traverse through the Parthenon, examine Greek Pottery and listen to the haunting whispers of the concentration camps of Europe.
Books are a great comfort to me. They are always there to welcome back into their world with gracious arms, and without judgement of when I last read them or whether picking them up for the first time. They are always there to take me on a journey into a world that, if books did not exist, would be lost to me, and to all of us.