Sunday, 6 February 2011
I turned on the news yesterday and was delighted that there were a series of 'read-ins' being staged all over the country. The militant inside me stirred. Excited, I got my shoes on and made my way to my local library, ready to march, sit in, wave my banner and, erm, burn my bra. Ahem. However, when I got there, I was gutted to find out that there was precisely zero action taking place. There was a middle aged woman browsing the science fiction section whilst smelling of lavender and fingering her pearls, but she seemed far too polite and wholesome to rant and rave. And she wasn't wearing a bra either.
For me, reading is the ultimate in entertainment. There is nothing better than a good book. I don't know where I'd be without my library. Libraries are paramount to the good health of society. They provide a rich source of reference and information for us, the people. As Dr Suess himself says, 'The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.'
Libraries have transformed my reading tastes. When I used to buy books I would judge them by their covers. And often their price tags. If the blurb didn't suck me in from the offset or the first page didn't grab me as I skim-read it, it would go back on the shelf, unpurchased. When I did buy books, I'd read them and then lob them back on my bookshelf where they would sit patiently until I needed the space. At this point, they'd get donated to the charity shop or I'd give them away to friends. Strangely, there was a degree of guilt associated with this. The second I joined my local library, things changed. When I go in there, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. I feel as thought infinite opportunities abound. Now I just take whatever book, CD or DVD that I fancy - if I don't like it, I can just return it. Easy.
At Christmas, I was fortunate enough to get a book voucher that bought me three books. There were five that took my fancy, so I had to go through a bizarre process of elimination. One of the books I discarded was One Day by David Nicholls. I can't even tell you why I chose the other books over that one. It might have been because I'm a bit of contrary-mary. On the cover of One Day was a lot of hype where fellow authors testified as to the brilliance of the book. Always one to favour the underdog, I put the book down and purchased another, more needy book.
Yesterday, after realising that the revolution was not going to start in my local library, I trudged over to the reservations shelf and found several books that I'd ordered. One Day was one of them. After (stupidly) walking away from purchasing it with my voucher, I still felt an attachment and felt as thought I needed to read it, hence the brilliance of being able to reserve one via the library. I love the face that libraries make information accessible to all. A ripple of joy surged through me yesterday when I picked One Day up. It had me gripped from the first line and I didn't finish reading it until the early hours.
The story revolves around two characters who meet on the night of their graduation, 15th July 1988. The following day, they go their separate ways. The story revisits them both on that day for each year that subsequently passes. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice to say, it's utterly, utterly brilliant and I couldn't put it down. It sucks you in. You feel as thought you know these characters - and not only do you know them, they become your friends. I laughed out loud and I did huge big belly sobs at their plight. An amazing, stunning piece of writing. Go read! (Except you, David Cameron. You can fuck off. You tosser.)