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THE JOY OF Handling a book by Odette Elliott

April 17, 2011

I travel quite a lot on the Underground.  Recently I have noticed a few people reading on a Kindle.  This has made me think about both this new electronic development and the long tried and tested object – a BOOK. I must have been thinking subconsciously about this, when I watched a friend open her big Larousse dictionary.  The Larousse is a French encyclopaedia-type dictionary.

Suddenly I remembered the thrill I felt when I was able to buy my first Larousse.  It was in 1975.  I remember the feel of those new shiny pages, the delight of being able to examine the beautiful and intricate illustrations as often as I wanted, the joy of possessing such a treasure.

Other memories then flooded into my mind.  I remembered the thrill I used to feel as a child when looking at “The Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The poems were child-friendly, but the biggest thrill came from the colour illustrations.  The volume I was looking at was given to my mother in 1926. The illustrations used the most vivid and beautiful colours.  The pictures showed scenes of a previous generation.  I particularly loved looking at the little girl in a long white dress, blue bow in her hair.  She was looking down at her auntie’s pale pink dress as it trailed along the floor “Whenever Auntie moves around, Her dresses make a curious sound. They trail behind her up the floor. And trundle after through the door”. There were pink roses on the sofa behind the little girl. One could see lovely old furniture and Auntie was carrying flowers. She had a green shawl and a dainty green bag, with flowers embroidered on it.  The whole scene spoke of peace and calm and elegance.

Now my memory is racing and I’ve just remembered an encyclopaedia my grandparents gave me every Christmas. I think it was called “Wonders of the World”. I remember the many colour illustrations which excited me. Many of the things that were mentioned as possibilities have since come to pass. I used to pore over the pages that suggested a bright new future.

It goes without saying that an author feels a special thrill when handling a copy of his or her book for the first time. (I was very happy on 7th April, when “Sammy Goes Flying” was launched.)  Admittedly I’m sure any author would also be pleased to have their work produced in the new technology as well. Hopefully new developments will go hand in hand with publication of actual books.  I believe they will.

To return to the joy of handling a book, does anybody have fond memories of a special book they have held in their hand and enjoyed?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Paul Willcocks permalink
    April 18, 2011 9:47 pm

    If magazines and books can be included then I still get a thrill when I handle old magazines and comics I used to read such as ‘World of Wonder’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’ and, going further back, a comic for little children called – can you fathom it – ‘Bimbo’!!
    Paul Willcocks

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