Books, glorious books ... and A.L. too

A worn-out, old book is a well-read, old book (image supplied by Lin Kristensen) I've recommended that working writers should read A.L. Kennedy's columns on the writing life in the Guardian -- if you haven't already, start immediately.

The Scottish novelist has a wonderful ability to write about her own concerns and personal situation without sounding self-indulgent (not easy to do as any of us on WordPress know).

And she got me to thinking about books again, about why we love them so much, and why a Kindle or Nook can never replace them.

In a paragraph from a recent column she describes her satisfaction at (finally) having all of her own books shelved instead of stored in boxes:

From here I can see the spine of The Wind in The Willows  – the same volume I read in bed when I was a child. It has been my friend for more than 40 years, there for me, a kind light. Here is the volume of Raymond Carver I threw across the room when I was a student because it was so amazing, so tender with broken people. Here is Alasdair Gray and his mind-blowing Lanark, which taught me the courage inherent in thinking and creating when I had no courage of my own. Here is my library.

How many of us can say the same? Let's see a show of hands. Quite a few.

It's not the number of books that you've read that matters--it's the depth of the reading, right? Kennedy doesn't sound like she has an inordinate number of books, but a special, carefully-selected collection. When she says, at the end of the graf, "Here is my library," what she really means is, I think,  "Here is my family."