Post by Karen Charlton
Hamish is in my office, discovering all these books I’d forgotten I had. Rupert Bear: a Noddy book that belonged to my mum which is sadly beyond repair (not bad for 60 years old): Heart in a Bottle: All Through The Year. I keep some of my favourite children’s books in my office, next to all my other books, the ones without pictures.
Kids will do that to you. Just when you think all the books are tidy and in their rightful place on the shelf, they go and pull them out and read them and toss them and use them as boats and hats and frisbees. But mostly, they move them from one place to another, and each time they are moved, you discover something that you’ve never seen before.
This week we discovered ‘old book smell’. Hamish is enamored.
“OOOoooh. I lub it,” he said. I offered him a new ‘old book’ (a reprint of a Noddy book) and he dismissed it with a curt “Meh …”
Hamish is too young to compare it, but the smell of old books reminds me so much of paper money. And paper money reminds me of the old post office in Main Street, with its timber sorting boxes mounted on the wall, and the rattan ceiling fan that did its rounds all through the year, not just in the summer heat. The sound of clanging stamps, the tinkling of coins and the thud of canvas mail bags being thrown to the floor, the sound of thoughts articulated and sent across the world.
In many ways, books are otherworldly. They are entire worlds, the book being both boat and map to take you to those places that exist only in our minds.
It’s been a few months since I’ve read so much as a newspaper, what with family, work, school and secret Santa business. I feel pixelated and vague, drowning in a digital sea. What I need is a paper boat to sail me to more solid shores.
Hello! Welcome to your new year. How are you going to spend it?