A Place in Our Lives for Books
When was the last time you
curled up in front of the fire and read a good book, over Christmas
perhaps? Houses used to come with fitted bookcases and there weren't so
many other things to do and occupy our leisure time. At one time they
were part of life; there was always time to loose oneself in a good
Good fictional hard and soft backs are still out there.
There's no lack of well established and contemporary authors to choose
from. I read a fair bit but friends often say to me "why bother, I'll
just wait for the film". That's such a shame because, with one or two
exceptions, the film is never as good as the book. Characters and
places are the Directors interpretation and not necessarily what a
reader might visualise.
One of the best recent film versions of a book was Peter
Jackson's Lord of the Rings, but even that missed out characters and
events that were in the books, and worse still changed certain events
from one place to another compared with Tolkien's original story.
Wilbur Smith's books are
totally engrossing. He mainly writes about Africa and often weaves
fictional stories around actual historical events. His latest book,
albeit a year old now was Heat of the Sun and concerns the fall of
Khartoum and the death of Gordon. The characters and events he
describes are spell-binding; it is truly difficult to put down once
started. His earlier books often use ancient Egypt as a backdrop and if
you have never read "The River God" and "Warlock" you have a treat in
Now days some books get hyped in much the same way films
are. Who ever had heard of Dan Brown before "The Da Vinci Code", the
film rights of which were snapped up before the book was even
published. Interestingly the subject matter turned out to be pretty
controversial and had the Catholic Church up in arms and a number of TV
pundits discussing its contentious premise. Great for sales mind!
Of recent books I suppose the "Harry Potter" series must
be amongst the most successful. The right stories tapped into the right
audience. However, I wonder how many of JK Rowling's adoring fans that
rush to see the new film releases in their thousands ever read the
books or even care that there are books.
Does a lack of reading contribute to the general
deterioration of the English language? Does it affect the ability to
use language correctly? Or should we just acquiesce to 'quick speak',
typified by telephone texting. God, I hope not! So back to the
beginning; when did you last read a book?