Today was a good day; today my copy of Maggie Myklebust’s “Fly Away Home Book” arrived! Some of you who follow Maggie’s Fly Away Home blog (and I recommend that you do) will know that she was kind enough to enter everyone in a book giveaway and what do you know – I won! So today I am carrying the book around like it’s the Holy Grail, reverently rubbing the cover and showing it to every visitor to the shop! I have a waiting list already for those wanting to borrow it from my Turkish book club and I haven’t even been able to open a page yet because of my visitors.
Nothing pleases me more than having an unread book tucked away in my bag awaiting my attention. I feel that there is something essential missing, if I am not in the process of reading a book. Kindles are lightweight and practical but do not have the smell and feel of well-thumbed pages. Even now, a blissful day for me can be a mug of hot chocolate, curled up on the sofa with a good book immersed in some wonderful other world. Ever since I was a small child I have loved books and sometimes when I would come home from school, I would tear up to my room and occasionally on my bed there would be a much-longed for copy of some paperback that I had continually pestered my mum for. And then it would be like Xmas Day all over again and I would have to be reluctantly dragged away from Moby Dick or Oliver to the dinner table.
I remember when my Dad took me to the local library for the first time; it was like I had been given the keys to the magic kingdom. I must have felt like Charlie did when he won Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. The local library was situated in a wing of an old neglected Georgian mansion-house in a public park with a tree-lined drive leading up to it. In the springtime I failed to appreciate the abundant cherry blossom that showered you with confetti petals when the gentle breeze blew and later on the blazing display of colour from the rhododendrons. The house at some time would have been incredibly majestic but as a child, I was so preoccupied with the anticipation of my book selection that I failed to notice its charms. The thing I do remember is the strong smell of disinfectant that permeated the entire building as I ran up the sweeping staircase contemplating an afternoon with Huckleberry Finn or Peter Pan.
I still have my old library tickets somewhere, handwritten by the rather austere librarian; in the simpler days before the computer age. The library wing constituted of just two rooms on the first floor with a whole room dedicated to children’s books. I remember hesitating when after completing my registration, the librarian, having established that I wasn’t a potential gangland criminal, gave me permission to go and select my books. I was completely awed by the wall to wall selection of children’s books and was overcome with wonder.
Sadly, the library is no longer situated in this grand majestic venue and has moved to a new build which has none of the old captivating charm. Whilst I still enjoy a visit to our new high-tech library, it lacks the fairy-tale like qualities of the library of my childhood and seems far too ordinary to be the backdrop for the likes of Huck, Fagin and Peter.
“So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land.” – J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan