The launch of the Kindle got me thinking about all the things an e-reader can never be. You can't inscribe it to a loved one or press flowers between it's pages. It can never be an object, loved and cherished and passed from person to person, with any history. Your children cannot draw upon the pages and fill it with precious memories. Illustrations look terrible on it, especially art, which needs a grand scale. For these reasons and many more, help me celebrate the real thing: dusty old books!

Friday, 23 October 2009

More from Mr Mayfield.

Very many thanks to Gerry for another great story about his own collection of dusty old books... Enjoy!

"These 2 books are special to me for slightly different reasons.

The first is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. I have an admission to make about this book, which I shall come to later. I received it when in hospital at the age of 7.

I spent quite a few periods in hospital around the time and to be in hospital for my seventh birthday was especially depressing for me.

But to my joy I received this book as a present from the nursing staff on the ward. At the age of seven it was beyond my reading ability, but non the less I was delighted and treasured it. I later went through a phase of liking the plainness of the single colour of the boards on the books and removed it's flysheet for it never to be replaced. Because it was past my reading age, it went on a shelf and was, in part, forgotten for many years. Much later I did try to read it, and here is the admission, but... I found the attitude of Defoe (and probably his contemporaries) towards non white peoples to be offensive and could not bring myself to actually finish it. Perhaps a shame and I may yet try again but... I still treasure the book as a mark of the nurses' kindness.

The other book 'Tales of Brave Adventure' was also one of the first books I 'owned'. I had 4 brothers and so got to 'own' very little. I received things passed down and was, in turn, expected to pass them along. But this book was mine, for none to share. A selfish attitude perhaps, but also a little island in a big sea. I was given this book by a neighbour for caring for their cat while they were on holiday when I was about 8. I treasure this for the ownership of it where everything else disappeared and deteriorated through others neglect. It may be a little tatty now, but it is nearly 50 years old."

Gerry Mayfield

1 comment:

  1. I love the cover of the Blyton. Gorgeous use of colour.

    Perhaps you might want to read Robinson Crusoe along with Adrian Mitchell's Man Friday, which gives the story from a black pov.