This has been making me endlessly happy recently.
I was bored one day, and decided to dig into an old cupboard to look for a particular book. I have recently become a bit obsessed about re-reading my old Greek tragedies so I thought I’d root around for that old dog-eared copy of Euripides.
And then I discovered all this other treasure. There is nothing so delightful, so exciting as finding an old book that you’d forgotten you’d read, or chancing upon a precious old volume that you’d thought you’d lost or perhaps lent away and never gotten back.
In the spirit of reinvention and starting life anew, I suddenly realised, nothing is as profoundly comforting, familiar and yet, also exciting, surprising and new as a collection of books.
They’re like friends, really, aren’t they? They bring you unimaginable stories, and the cleverness and wisdom of words which, matched together in a particular dance, make your heart sing just for how beautiful they sound.
They bring you back to a time when you were reading those stories, including with it all the hopes, idleness, joys and little truths you discovered then, back then in a younger, more dreamful day.
They also bring you forward, showing you the infinite permutations that can happen if you only let all your wildest dreams become real. Everything becomes possible; books show you that. And if it can all come true in the wonderlands found between those wonderfully inky pages, then so too can everything you think and hope of in your living, breathing world.
There is so much hope in books, and reinvention, transformation, betterment, where loss becomes gain, and fears become love, where impossibilities become everyday normals, and the absurd become beautiful.
What I found in my old almost-forgotten book cupboard is only a tiny percentage of what else there is on my bookshelves, and then further, on the bookshelves of my family home where I discovered just how worldly and well read my own dear parents are. Right here, in the old, too-familiar spaces I’ve taken for granted has been lying a packed-to-the-ceiling sweet-shop equivalent of a book collection.
Just a snapshot then, of what has gone into this wee, randomly selected, tiny slice of an instagram:
(from bottom up):
– Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
– The Adventures of Sally, P.G. Wodehouse
– All That is Solid Melts into Air, Marshall Berman
– Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
– Westward Ho! Charles Kingsley
– Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
– Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
– No One Belongs Here More Than You, Miranda July
– Medea & Other Plays, Euripides
– The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
– Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson
– Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan
– Affinity, Sarah Waters