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January 7, 2010

(This is a random musing (hence RM) I had  on my computer that I wrote on 31/08/07. I think it’s the first thing like this I wrote. Enjoy)

Books. A story to hold in your hand. A good hardback is the best. When you first open one it can seem daunting. Getting into a story requires effort and time. Maybe you’ve just finished a different book that you liked, and you don’t want to move on so soon. It’s always the same during the reading though. The moments of excitement or interest intersperse the moments of dull indulgence. You don’t have anything to do so you choose to read a little more of the story to see if today it’s going to go anywhere new. And with every good book there’s that same final stretch, the last few chapters where the story really grips you and nothing on Earth is going to stop you from eating up the rest of it in one go. The way that you count the remaining pages as you turn onto the next one, always faintly depressing but also empowering, because soon you are to finish it. Sometimes when you do you’ll go back over other parts of the book again, maybe an introduction that you didn’t understand the full significance of the first time, or maybe an episode that’s a little sketchy in your mind because of a distraction or a lapse in concentration when you were reading it. Either way, after the story is finished it becomes a part of you. You own it. You live all the experiences you read, and each time you do it’s perfectly yours because it’s happening in your head as well as on the page. And, unlike anything else, because it’s something solid, written down, it’s an object at the same time as being an experience. No other experience can you hold in your hand, to feel physically as well as mentally. It is unique, this is true, but even though the experience is unique there are a million different forms of it, a million different books, a million different stories, all different and all affecting us in some way. To finish a book is to own it, and when you finish it you can hold it in your hands and remember. That is the wonder of books: to be able to have such experiences, to own them and touch them, to live on other worlds and explore other minds, and then, when you have finished, to be able to hold the book, to feel it, and to remember.

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