Friday, November 21, 2003

No 29.

Hold on John
I think there’s something good on
I used to read books but…

Song: Not Now John
Album: The Final Cut

There may once have been a time when it was expected that book reading would decline because of the increasing influence of television and computers but I haven’t seen much sign of that happening, yet.

Selling books is big business with branches of Waterstones, Blackwells and Ottakers springing up all over the place. Then there are ideas like Bookcrossing and the BBC’s Big Read which create and sustain interest in books.

All of which is just as well because it would be a shame if we stopped reading. Books spark the imagination in a way that television or computer games could never do. Visual media hand everything to you on a plate, show you somebody else’s vision, and all you can do then is enjoy it. Books, on the other hand, give your imagination much more free rein. With just a bare description a good author can create a picture in your mind but the difference is that it will always be your picture, not the one the author had.

That’s the real power of books, the fact that they affect everyone in a completely personal way. While I sometimes have difficulty recalling what happened in a programme I watched last week, I remember an intensely vivid portion of a book for years.

While they still affect me that powerfully, I’ll always read books, even if it is just on trains and buses.

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