Sunday 9 August 2015

The Joy of Sharing Books

I love reading. I belong to a book club where the other girls love reading too. We have also become good friends over the years. One of the great joys of belonging to a book club is you get to rave about the books you love, and you get to share these reads with good friends. Combine that with a home cooked dinner, a glass of wine and some interesting conversations, and you will understand why I very rarely miss book club night. It is one of my favourite evenings of the month. In fact, last month the girls were astounded when I admitted that, having developed severe abdominal cramps late afternoon, I popped two painkillers, ensured I had a ride, and went to book club as scheduled. My daughter couldn’t believe I was going – it wasn’t only the fulfilling of my passions, but also due to the fact that my husband was feeling poorly, and there was no debate in my mind which evening I would prefer. An evening with my girlfriends was infinitely more desirable than going to bed early with a snuffly snory spouse – sorry dear! The fact that said abdominal cramps turned into a hospital visit, and later an operation is a completely different story.

My reading passion has increased over the years,
and I am finding that the money I spend on books per month is enormous. Book club helps, but I still have way more demands than there is supply of dough. As a result, I resort to cheaper electronic versions, and also have found that there are publishers who will let me have online copies of books, in exchange for honest reviews. But this leads to an interesting dilemma – It isn’t easy to share these books. And enjoying a book “alone” is really not as fun as being able to share your passion with friends and family – even if it takes a long time to do the many rounds.

"What is a weekend?"
My sister lives in the beautiful Western Cape, which is a two hour plane trip away. She had to come to a hospital in Johannesburg for a medical procedure in February this year. The procedure involves a day of nasty preparation – fasting and drinking fairly vile concoctions. We were both dreading this, but managed to get through it by hiring Series 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey as a distraction. It was a wonderful success – getting both our minds off the matter at hand, and she went home to finish every single episode of Series 3, 4 and 5, leaving me stuck at the end of Series 3 – just can’t go further yet!

When she told me she needed to come back in May for a repeat procedure, I felt a little desperate about how we were going to kill the time (and my satisfaction that she had loved Downton so much was counterbalanced with no small degree of irritation that we now didn’t have another series with which to distract ourselves), not to mention under quite a bit of pressure to up my game and provide distraction that was equal to or better than my previous victory.

It is with extreme satisfaction that I can report that I had just read my best book of 2015 – The Shut Eye, by Belinda Bauer. I cannot describe how this book gripped me. Well, I tried to, in my review, but still don’t think I did it justice. It hooked me, took me captive, and deprived me of all other worldly pleasures until I had completed reading it. So I suggested that Lindsay try this, and I would do some work.

She started the book, and I warned myself to keep my expectations low. However, as the day progressed, I was able to watch a repeat performance of the delight that the escape into the world created by Belinda Bauer  had evoked in me take over my sister. My joy was complete when, after dinner, she curled up in my favourite chair, next to the fire, and didn’t talk to me at all, but engrossed by each page, she flipped compulsively until done. The house could have burned down and she wouldn’t have noticed.

She left the next day, with another of my favourites – Ms Conception by Pamela Power, which she devoured on the plane, and loved. I smiled the whole day.

And that, dear fellow readers, is why, even though I read anything I can get my hands on, when I really love a book, I have to own it – and preferably the hard copy. The joy of sharing books is a gift that keeps giving – from friends to family to book club. And quite honestly, if the book gets a bit scuffed and bent in the process, it’s worth it. The sharing of delight in stories that draw you in, keep you entertained, make you think and twist and turn until their satisfying conclusions is one of the great pleasures in life. Like wine, laughter, music and good food – there is a multiplying effect when they are shared with loved ones. 

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nataliesimmons said...

Just curious Bev, aren't the northern suburbs public libraries quite good? Magalies is rather dismal, but I would definitely use a good library if I had one nearby.

Bev Bouwer said...

They are good, Natalie, but I gave up, because I am so bad at returning book son time. I should actually think of joining again. I may be better in my "old age". We have a few near us. Wayne and Amy like the Parkview one, but they haven't visited for a while.