August 9th – Book Lovers’ Day
Through the beauty of my twitter trends list this morning, I found out that today is Book Lovers’ Day (known as National Book Lovers’ Day in the USA.) This is a day that screamed out for me to make a return to writing a Sunday Shelf post!
I am a reader. It is a defining part of my identity, which has probably come across before now through the course of reading my blogs! I come from a family of readers – I’m certain I wouldn’t read nearly as voraciously as I do, without the influence of my parents. Friday nights in our house were Library Night: I remember with such fondness how the children’s section used to look in the big library in town, and the almost-extinct sound of the library stamp is still so incredibly evocative to me. It is an untold pleasure these days (or at least, it was, prior to lockdown) to have to approach the desk as a book won’t scan on the self-service machine, for it to be manually scanned and a date stamp be added to the ticket glued inside the cover.
As a child, I examined these tickets carefully (I have always been a geek, okay?) I loved the idea of how many hands the book had passed through to reach mine. It was a source of fascination to see dates that reached back in time, to children who would have been long-grown up.
I hadn’t intended for this post to become such a love letter to the library, but it’s certainly heading that way! I think it’s a shame that children today who do visit libraries, a sadly dwindling number in many areas, recognise the beep of a self-scan machine rather than the satisfying click and thud of a date stamp. But it’s a shame full-stop, that so many children don’t experience the same joy I felt as a child, wandering into this room full of stories.
It’s an immense pleasure as an adult, to find others who are equally passionate about books. At university, I had a wonderful English tutor (who is now often a reader of this blog…) who recognised in me the bibliophile streak. She would often ask what I was reading when we passed in corridors, or if I was found (frequently!) curled around a paperback in a quiet corner.
It’s quite the norm to be regarded as an oddity for reading, something that I’ve long since gotten used to. I wonder if other book lovers feel the same spark that I do, when I spot a person on public transport, on a crowded platform, or in the middle of a coffee shop, with a book instead of their phone?
This Book Lovers’ Day, appreciate the readers in your life. Let them recommend you a book. And never underestimate how much obscure knowledge they might have squirrelled away, from all that reading!
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots, by Jessica Soffer
Atonement, by Ian McEwan