The value of a good book

I have a daughter of seventeen going onto being a woman—well she is already, but that’s another story—and a son who’s eleven and soon to enter High School. My wife and I are young parents, early forty…it’s something I always feel I did right: having children at my mid-twenties; for those wondering why, the answer is simple: being a young parent means we have the energy to meet their demands and we can also share similar interests. Medically speaking, my wife, who studied psychology and is into that type of thing, tells me that complications also arise in women if they leave childbearing for too late. We’ve witnessed this happening, so I tend to agree. However, to be fair, and an argument is never one sided, I’ve known older parents who are doing a great job, who are financially in a better position to provide…so there is always a flip side to the coin…but my advice is still to have your kids early, late twenties early thirties. Please feel free to express your views on this one, since I am sure there will be a lot of reaction; one thing I can guarantee is that all opinions will be respected.

Now, back to our topic, the value of a good book. I mentioned the kids for a reason. My son is your typical twelvish year old, playing outside with his friends, which makes me really happy as he is brushing up on his social skills and making ties that might last a lifetime. Now for the down side: he spends, like many children I see recently, a lot, I mean A LOT of time playing electronic games and watching that electric nightmare we call TV. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh on TV since it can be used for good purposes as well, like curling on a sofa with your loved ones and watching a good movie. But these kids nowadays spend so much of their time staring blankly at the screen—it can’t be good for them—and the stuff they watch! Take your pick: violence, swearing, love scenes that are beyond their age. Tst! Tst! I hear you say, shaking your heads, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to monitor what they watch nowadays. Anyhow, the point I am making is that our son finds little time for reading for pleasure; the only reading he does is forced reading, yep, you guessed it: homework or reading for exams!

Take my little woman, my seventeen year old. She is different in character to my son and is a female, as opposed to the little guy: what I am saying is that girls ARE different from boys. She, thankfully, does read for pleasure. Yes, she watches a lot of movies: her preference is to curl up in bed and watch them live on her PC. However, she also reads books, yayyyy! I am always thrilled when I hear her say, “Good movie, but the book was so much better.” Just a side note here: apart from the teenager things she watches, we share a lot of common interests in movies, music, art (just making a point about our age difference being small—but, then again, I think my tastes won’t change ten or twenty years from now…so…). The fact that she enjoys books more than the movies brings me relief, and confirms that my faith in books and their power to offer entertainment (and moral cultivation) is well founded. Being a fantasy writer I can see why. The images we create in our minds when an author drops a hint here and there are far more colourful and potent that any motion picture. They are our images, very personal, the work in writing resonates differently for each of us, so, books are here to stay and that’s never a bad thing.

Personally, I love books. I can’t imagine my life without them, it would be like living in a world without being able to taste or see colour. My only regret is that I will always want to read more books than I am physically able to: there just is so much good reading out there which I want to devour but will never be able to read fast enough. And as I grow older, I get to realise that the greatest hero in every novel is in fact the silent one, the one we don’t see, the creator behind the work: yes, you’ve guessed it: the flesh and blood author who weaves the spell.

Thanks for sharing and hope you all have a great weekend. Keep reading, people, for, honestly, how many things can you think of that are as satisfying and rewarding?

3 Replies to “The value of a good book”

  1. Great post Alex – I totally agree with having your children younger if you can (and if it’s right for you etc) BUT as you said, there are advantages to being older too. Personally I want all the nappy changing done and dusted whilst I’m young enough to have the energy to clean it all up!

    It’s such a wonderful thing to find joy in reading – it’s a completely different feeling to those we get watching a film. A book can be interpreted in so many ways whereas a film projects the image the director/producer etc wants you to see and that’s it. So please keep writing so we can keep on reading!

    • Agreed about the nappy changing, ha, ha. Well, I don’t want to step on any toes, but having spoken to parents who have had their children at a later stage, they tell me they don’t have the energy they used to and they certainly don’t have the patience—I expected it to be the other way around…but it just shows how wrong we can be.

      What you say about movies and directors is so true! And, yes, in reading books the experience is personal.

      As for me writing—no worries…I am currently brushing up book 2, and book 3 is half way done. I’m also sending to agents to get book 1 published…busy, busy, busy.

  2. I dont have much time for reading. Im constantly drawing for fashion college. Plus side is at least i am being creative.

    I do prefer young adult fiction and short stories as i dont have patience. You can day reading is relaxing and doesnt require patience but for me i want the story to unfold faster and i tend to skip pages . I like the ease with which YA and short stories can be read. I get bored quickly.

    Books allow the imagination to run wild and there is nothing better than creating your own images in your head.

    Good post. Thanks for that x