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Posts Tagged ‘Shelf Changers’

2015 has officially begun….!

Scattered around social media are a plethora of people resolved to read more in this brand new year- to dedicate more time to our literary loves, to delve into unknown territories, and to embark upon fictional adventures with those page turning friends we are yet to meet. This is a good resolution, for ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go….’ (Nice one Dr. Seuss!)

I, however, have not proclaimed this as my year’s goal, because I am already in a pretty fantastic book club that challenge me each month to sample, as Aladdin sings so passionately about, ‘a whole new world’.

Our book club is filled with a variety of ages, a variety of people who really could not be more different from one another, and yet our love of reading (and let’s be honest- our love of cake…) unites us. With variety comes diversity, and the wonderful thing that keeps everyone interested is that every month, we can more often than not, simply say ‘I would never have chosen that book’. It is an unfortunate reality of life that from time to time, in most areas of one’s day-to-day, we stumble into a rut. The same can most definitely be said about our reading. Sometimes we get comfortable, we read the same genre, the same author or just simply that one book that we finish, and start again within seconds of closing the final page. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is no such joy as the joy of ‘that book’. ‘That book’- the one that you know by heart, the one that no matter how many times you’ve read it, it does not deplete in excitement, in merriment, in causing you to cry, to laugh, to sigh or to clutch it to your chest in sheer desperation for that favourite character who is dying that you want, just once, to pull through! In fact, C.S Lewis made a very shrewd point when he said ‘It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself a new one ’til you have read an old one in between.’

There is an inexplicable trauma attached to the final few pages of a gripping novel. If you have never loved a book, then you will never have experienced the gut wrenching emotion involved in a literary conclusion. Whether it ended well, or ended disastrously, the knowledge that it has ended, can never be revoked.

The sign of a good book, to me, is how I feel when it has reached it’s conclusion.

1) If I shrug my shoulders and move on- it was fine, simply just fine.

2) If I close the cover, and remain in a contemplative state for longer than a few seconds, it was a good book. One I will remember, not one I will adore.

3) If I roll my eyes and cast it aside, it was hardly worth my attention in the first place.

4) But, if I take a swift inhalation, then sigh with a force that could shake even the sturdiest of ships, (and in very rare cases, exclaim some word or other along the lines of ‘nooooo’) I know that the book I hold in my hands has changed something in my book shelf forever.

Now I know that I am, and most probably, always will be, a very hard reader to grip. I can read almost anything you force upon me, but the percentage of books that gain from me the fourth emotional outcome, is dangerously low. There is a deep grieving process attached to the conclusion of these books. And again, if you have never before, truly loved a book, you will not have been privy to this sort of bitter-sweet emotion. And for that, I am sorry for you.

For a book lover, it almost becomes a literary life mission, to collect into one’s possession (both physically and mentally) as many of these shelf-changing books as you can. It can however be a chore, for with many things in life you have to sift through a pile of ‘gumpf’ before you find the jewel. Although I have not (and will not) resolve in this new year to increase my reading quota, I do look forward to finding the next book that so envelops me into its fictional world that my book shelf will be changed yet again. I am thankful to be in a group that challenges me to read those books that I would never have picked up for myself, and am confident that as the year progresses, so will my list of ‘shelf changers.

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