One of the reasons I married my husband is that he is also a book fiend. He believes that books are groceries. To him, an overflowing book shelf is a style decision. Each time he comes back from a work trip, he brings books for me and for the children and we await his return eagerly, wondering what delights he’ll bring. (We’re also quite keen to see him.)
Books are memories. That’s why we can’t throw them out, give them away or sell them on Amazon. In our home they gather dust as a sign of love. It means they’re staying. Every single room in our house has bookshelves, except the bathroom, and if it wasn’t tiled floor to ceiling in pristine German style, it would have some. Instead it has a few books balanced on the radiator, for browsing while bathing.
We even have bookshelves in the cellar. I’ve been working here for the first time in ages, and I’m distracted by all the fabulous books we’ve got. My student books are here – classics, the modernists, women’s studies, film studies. When I pull one out, I remember the desperation and the thrill of being a new grown-up, thrust on the world. My chill-out books are here too – mysteries and whodunnits, reminding me of holidays or times when I needed to escape. The baby books are here. With Lily I had a pile of books at my elbow, which I devoured while feeding her. With Daisy, I checked up on her development now and again. With Ollie, the books moved to the cellar. Here are quotation books, dictionaries and a thesaurus, redolent of my days as a journalist.
Then there are some great novels here, some of which I need to move upstairs so I can re-read. From where I sit I can see Ian McEwan’s Atonement, half of Thomas’s beloved PG Wodehouse collection, a Stephen Fry novel, something by Anne Tyler, a bit of Proust and a bit of Dickens. Although all read, they all represent potential for rereading, for lost hours, dreams, new worlds and escape.
How lucky I am to be married to someone who not only tolerates escape in books, but goes there too.