11 November, 2009

Books and reading

Jung called it synchronicity - when things came together, and that happened to me over the last couple of days.

On the excellent Bookshow on Radio National on Monday, Ramona Koval interviewed self styled bibliophile Rick Gekoski who has written a book called Outside of a dog. The book's title is inspired by the Groucho Marx quote: 'Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.' Rick Gekoski is a former Warwick University literature professor who became a rare-books dealer.

In an amusing and clever interview he described how he had a house full of books - thousands of them. When his first marriage ended acrimoniously, his wife claimed the books as part of the contents of the house, which she was entitled to. He said he was shattered for a long time and wondered how he would cope without these books around him, but came to the realisation that it was reading that was precious, not the act of owning books. ( Aside: a good plug for public libraries!)

Yesterday at the State Library we had a wrap up session on the Bushfire Relief Project - and especially the Rebuilding Book collection project. We were talking about how difficult it would be for book lovers, one lady showed a photo to one of our staff of her extensive collection that she lost in the Black Saturday fires. The program that has been offered to people, to replace particular items and also provide new books, has been very much appreciated by the 200 people who were part of the first program, and no doubt by the many people who will be able to choose their own books from the 28,000 items that will be shipped to affected communities - to libraries and relief centres. We have had some wonderful stories - one was a small boy who couldn't get to sleep because every night his dad had read the Hairy Maclary stories to him, and they had been destroyed. We were able to get a replacement set and sent them up to his school where they were presented to him.

Books are such an integral part of many people's lives, it is hard to imagine not having them around. How do you think you would cope if a vengeful wife or a natural disaster deprived you of your books?

1 comment:

Jie said...

I just come across this blog and I feel that here is an interesting place indeed.
I had have a similar incidence when I was young.
My aunt gave me a set of fictions as present. I knew that she wanted me to read more English books. But I was quite playful and lazy to learn English at that time. Honestly speaking, I didn't treasure those fictions much, not until a fire broke out. My apartment burnt down and I lost almost all the books and only one of them was left. The only book left was blackened and dusty. I felt very regretful because of my laziness which cost me the chance of reading those wonderful stories.
It taught me a lesson and now I become an enthusiatic book worm. P.s. My aunt doesn't know this yet:P