#50 In love with books – Louis Greenberg

April 13, 2011 in Sonder kategorie

What made you fall in love with books – and how did it happen?

I never was in love with books. I find library porn like The Shadow of the Wind a little cloying, and I nearly came out in hives when I visited Hay-on-Wye. Too many dusty books. I remember sitting next to my mother, breathing in the plumes of dander as she slapped the books in our house together, flipped their pages, flapped a dust-cloth over them, cursing the fish-moths heartily as she went. The memory makes me long for nothing more than an e-reader with all my novels on it.

In my house, books were like another member of the family, getting in my way, tripping me up, and offering me unexpected respite from my houseful of siblings. We didn’t have many children’s books. It was the picture books – the ones you can’t keep on a Kindle – that first grabbed me and sheltered me: illustrated books on the sea, on space; books on animals and stones and patterns in shells; health manuals and art books. And it delights me that my older son’s current bedtime story, between Paddington, Winnie-the-Pooh and Julia Donaldson, is a book – for grown-ups  – on the universe.

My transition to fiction was a gradual one, via Tintin and Asterix … I clung to the pictures for a long while. I started flirting with detective novels that my mother liked, and stories by Poe. Only at university, when I started enjoying the novels I studied, was my relationship with fiction consummated.

Watching my parents lay out their weekly newspaper the old-fashioned way, with big sheets of paper, scissors and glue, gave me a sense of the heft and the shape of words. Books, words, paper, were inky, earthy, dusty companions throughout my childhood, not the object of a delicate romance.

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