Thursday, 2 February 2017

Blind Love ... of a Book

Today’s confession … er blog … is about books. 

I love books.

I hope you read those words aloud, luxuriating in them so they came out as, ‘I LOOOOOVE BOOKS!’  

And, at the same time, you will have pictured me fluttering my eyelashes and fanning my face with both hands while bluebirds swooped and twittered around my head.

Yes, I love books with a capital O. 
And the obsession grows with every passing year.
The other day, a friend told me that she was about to read Winnie the Pooh for the very first time. Winnie the Pooh! I almost swooned with envy. What a delicious, warm, fuzzy, scrummy surprise she was in for. Nothing in literature compares to the world centred around 100 Aker Wood, where we experience the sweetness of Piglet, the ignorant wisdom of Owl, the gloom of Eeyore and the toe-curling cuteness of Pooh. 

But even as I write this, a little bit of fear is creeping in. What if my friend isn't charmed? What if she finds Winnie the Pooh ho-hum? What if she ... I can barely even bring myself to type the words ... What if she doesn't even make it to the end?

How will I ever look her in the eye again? 

How will I keep myself from grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her back and forth until her teeth rattle, shouting, ‘WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!!”

And there, my dear friend, lies the crux of the issue and the core of today's confession/blog. When I love a book - I mean truly LOOOOVE a book - I find myself feeling irrationally protective. 
And it's affecting my book life. Deeply. I've stopped lending novels willy-nilly (and I love willy-nilly lending!). I hesitate to ask people's opinions on my deepest literary loves (and I love discussing my love for my literary loves!). 

I'm more than happy for you to think differently from me about politics, religion, art, exercise, child-rearing and the ideal amount of cake to eat for breakfast. But if you tell me that you didn't really like a book that I have loved and adored, I’m devastated.
I want to weep.
I want to clutch the abused novel to my chest and rock it soothingly back and forth.
How can you not dote on this beautiful creation? The author has worked so hard to produce a masterpiece and now you are telling me that you:
     a) skimmed over the middle ten chapters.
     b) didn’t get past page 30.
     c) tore it to shreds and tossed it in the compost bucket.
Why don’t you just stick a dagger in my heart and twist it around?

I know.  It makes me sound a tad special (or a whole heap of bonkers).
But there you go. 
That's what I've become.

So before my family and friends stage an intervention, I am going to take the first step to recovery. It might not seem like much, but it's a biggy for me. I am going to lay my heart on the line and tell you about my latest passion …
The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George.

Oh my goodness! This book has it all ... in my opinion. (See how I did that? It hurt, but I did it.) 
It makes me laugh. 
It makes me cry. 
It makes me long to pick up a pen and write beautiful words. It’s a story of love, loss, friendship, renewal, life, death, literature and a fable-like journey down the river. 
And it’s set in France - Paris to Provence!!! Ooh la la! Doesn’t it sound delicious?

However ... GULP ... feel free to give me your honest opinion about this book. Even if it is not the same as mine.

Just be gentle when you break the news to me.

Very gentle.

And maybe accompany the message with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers … and a darned good, water-tight reason as to why you don’t think it’s brilliant.

Here are a few delectable quotes from The Little Paris Bookshop.
Just to whet your appetite.
Not to sway you.
Well maybe …

He sold books by weight to anyone under fourteen: two kilos for ten euros.
Aren’t we running at a loss?’ asked Max.
Perdu shrugged his shoulders. ‘Financially speaking, yes. But it’s well-known that reading makes people impudent, and tomorrow’s world is going to need some people who aren’t shy to speak their minds, don’t you think?’ 


The reality of love is better than its reputation. 

and this gem, right at the end of the novel ...

Jean Perdu sits in the farmhouse’s summer kitchen …writing in his Great Encyclopaedia of Small Emotions: A Guide for Booksellers, Lovers and Other Literary Pharmacists.
He is making an entry under K: 'Kitchen solace - the feeling that a delicious meal is simmering on the kitchen stove, misting up the windows, and that at any moment your lover will sit down to dinner with you and, between mouthfuls, gaze happily into your eyes. (Also known as living.)’ 

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