I have been in the book trade for 13 years, so it will come as no surprise that I’m a voracious reader. It goes without saying that reading is in itself a source of endless pleasure, but the act of devouring, absorbing and contemplating the words and their meaning is only the first part of the story. Books are my passion, and how can a passion truly be fulfilled if it isn’t shared with others? Its comparison to a burning flame is an old analogy but nevertheless an apt one, for an unshared passion will either engulf and consume the self – or flicker and die out completely.
For me the satisfaction of placing a book in someone’s hand that they never would have discovered otherwise is a feeling like no other, and that’s a big part of the reason I decided to start this blog. If just one person falls in love with a book as a result of my recommendation then I consider that a great success! I am also keenly aware of the value of other people’s recommendations to me; some of my favourite books have been ones that I would never have considered reading if it hadn’t been for the fervent endorsement of my fellow book-lovers. All the computer algorithms in the world are no substitute for conversation when it comes to finding your next great read.
It’s no exaggeration to say that books and the sharing thereof have opened more inspirational and emotional doors in my life than anything else I can name. They have provided an escape during turbulent and stressful times. They have both vindicated and challenged my beliefs. They have ignited friendships – and maybe even a romance or two. Yet perhaps the greatest power of the book is its role as an ever-expanding window through which to view and experience our shared humanity. Centuries pass, and the formats through which we absorb the written word continue to evolve; but the things that make us what we are – our loves, needs, desires and fears – are seen time and again, like a perpetual heartbeat driving our human story. To read is to put a finger on the pulse of humanity, to feel its history live and breathe….to feel oneself alive.