What Do Books Mean to You?

I’d like to get personal for this post and share with you what books mean to me. Books have long been my escape route to other places. They have taught me about life, educated me, entertained me, inspired me, made me laugh and cry, and at times books have been a place to hide from the real world.

I moved house about thirteen times before the age of eighteen, went to seven different schools and since leaving home have moved countries, cities and houses so many times I’ve lost count. And always, along the way, I’ve had books. They have been faithful friends. A place to escape to when you’re sitting in the playground by yourself as the new girl, or on a plane to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone and are feeling a little daunted.

Books became my career. I studied them at university, used them to inspire students as an English language teacher, sold them in a bookstore and then marketed them when I joined the publishing industry. Some people can give their books away. I can only do this if I don’t like the book or if another house move forces me to downsize my collection. But the books that I love always stay on my shelf. I only lend books to family and friends whose shelves I can raid to get my precious books back.

You never forget a good book. Every now and then I like to take a favourite book off my shelf and revisit the story. It can take me back to a time in my life when the story first resonated with me. Sometimes I can read a passage for the umpteenth time and discover a new meaning behind the words.

Though my love for books has remained unchanged all these years, the world of books is changing. E-books are gaining popularity and I’m considering the many pluses of carrying hundreds of books on one device. I like the idea of downloading a book I want to read instantly. However, my growing need seems disloyal to the brick and mortar bookstores and to the Australian publishing industry who are trying so hard to survive. It is very much an adapt or die time for them.

But can I line these e-books up on my bookcase? Can I open the pages of an e-book to see a stain I made with spaghetti ten years ago, or a passage I loved so much that the page is starting to come out? Call me old-fashioned, but I love the sight of my books as real objects. The old ones starting to yellow and wrinkle with age. The newer ones in their bright colours hoping to win a place in my heart. Maybe a day will come when we see the last word printed on the last piece of paper. I hope that day doesn’t come too soon.

What do books mean to you?