I’ve been thinking about books. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about authors.
When Marie Kondo suggested books might not always spark joy, there was a worldwide collective gasp. A feeling of how dare she say such a thing. And while I believe the objections to Marie Kondo are largely rooted in an unfortunate misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what she was saying, I do understand the knee-jerk instinct behind the horror. The truth is, despite a thousand, thousand handwringing thought pieces claiming people today hate reading, so many of us still love books. Books – and libraries – bring us joy.
Like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, one of my greatest fantasies is a library all of my own. Walls and walls of books, all lined up and ready to be read, ready to share their wonders with me. To this day I can’t walk past a bookstore – especially a second-hand one – without desperately wanting to go inside. Books are beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by them?
As a child, one of my favourite places in the world was the local library. I’d spend hours wandering around, carefully selecting books to take home to me. At the time, I barely understood the concept of author. I understood the concept of a series – from the William books to Anne of Green Gables to The Magic Faraway Tree, once I fell in love with a series I would try consume every book I could find in it. But the authors? I didn’t even read their names.
Then I discovered Terry Pratchett. And for the first time, books weren’t these mystical objects that appeared out of nowhere, containing magic and wonder and joy. They were mystical objects created by gifted magicians who used words to conjure up magic and wonder and joy.
As an editor, I have the privilege of working with authors one-on-one. I’ve been able to witness the process as a book goes from early drafts, through rewrite after rewrite, until it finally arrives in the world in its final form: one of those books that sit on someone’s shelf (virtual or otherwise), sparking that joy.
Think about that. Every book on your shelf represents an author. Every book on your shelf represents someone who you can thank (sometimes posthumously) for the joy they’ve brought you.
So book lovers: next time you think about how much you love your books, think about the authors who created them. If you don’t already, send them some love. Make a point of reviewing their book on Amazon or Goodreads. Authors live for those reviews. Believe me when I saw few things spark more joy for an author than when a reader tells them they loved their book.
(One final rant: It was my Kindle that really made me rethink my idea of books. I already own a library – a virtual one. And while the books in my library aren’t leatherbound or filled with pages, they are still the wonderful, joyful collections of knowledge, story and information the books in any library tend to be. Best of all, I get to carry my library around with me. You can’t tell me Belle wouldn’t have given just about anything for that. We say “don’t judge a book by its cover” for a reason. A book is not defined by its physical form. To think it is is to miss the entire point of books.)