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She gripped her fathers hand tightly as they approached the building for the first time, slightly nervous at the sight of it with its wooden shutters and darkened windows. It wasn't a particularly large building, standing only one story high but to a small child it looked huge and unwelcoming. She noticed the wood first, so much wood, this wasn't a brick building like her own house, more like a large barn surrounded by a walkway, itself edged by wooden railings. This was definitely an old building she thought, probably even older then her father.
As they walked through the door she had to wait for her eyes to adjust to the darkness inside, she blinked a couple of times as the dimly lit room became clearer, looking round she saw yet more wood, polished wooden floorboards below her feet and huge wooden beams over her head. As her senses came alive the first thing that struck her was the smell, it was a strange smell, warm and fusty but not at all unpleasant, she wrinkled her nose as she tried to recognise it but it was like nothing she'd ever smelt before. There was an eerie silence too, apart from the odd rustling sound and a footstep here and there she heard nothing, and even her father didn't speak.
Instead he guarded her gently into the main part of the building and her eyes opened wide in wonder as she took in the sights around her. Shelf upon shelf loomed before her, each of them as high as the ceiling and each of them filled to bursting with books. In the centre of the room stood a large sturdy wooden table and sitting on the chairs that surrounded it were a couple of people so engrossed in their own books that they failed to notice the small child starring at them.
Her father led her to a small corner where the shelves weren't quite so high and the walls were more colourful. Seeing a book she'd read at school she squealed with delight and made a dash for it. Out of nowhere came a loud 'Shhhhhhh' and she turned to see a stern looking woman with her finger pressed tightly against her lips. Her father quickly told her that she must be really quiet at all times and if she wanted to speak then she had to whisper so as not to disturb other people. She thought that this was quite a silly rule and wanted to say so but the stern lady was still looking at her so she just nodded her head and kept her mouth closed.
As he showed her all of the different books her father explained that she could pick out her favourite three and take them home with her, not to keep of course, just to borrow for a couple of weeks and even better, when she had read and returned them she could take three more. When she left the building holding her three chosen books tightly in her arms she looked back and thought what a wonderful place the library was...
Over the years as I grew up I returned to the library on a regular basis, although I have two older sisters more often then not it would just be myself and my father who would walk hand in hand to that wonderful building. For many years I was only allowed into the small children's corner and I longed for the day when I was old enough to explore the rest of the building. There were no doors or barriers to stop us but it was a rule of the library that children stayed in the children's section to stop them disturbing the adult readers and stop them looking at any unsuitable books.
Although I can't remember the exact ages I do recall the day I was allowed to progress to the first aisle outside of the children's section. This aisle was filled with books for older children and teenagers and although I hadn't quite managed to read all of the hundreds of books in the children's section over the years I relished the new adventures these books would open up to me.
Not long after I truly came of age and at last was allowed to venture into the rest of the library. Thousands and thousands of books were suddenly within my grasp but now I had choices that up until then had been unavailable to me.
Instead of reading story books I now had the chance to read about anything I could possibly think of: languages; literature; music; art; history... the options were unlimited. Where as before there were very few factual books and those available were for reference only (i.e. couldn't be removed from the library) I now found that I could take these books home and read them over and over again.
This one building fuelled my desire for reading and turned it into the passion it is today. To this day I remember the smell of all those books mixed with the smell of the wood and if ever I catch the aroma of an old book it takes me right back to when I was a child.
So what's so wonderful about reading? Especially in this day and age when we have televisions, videos and yes even computers. Well you must all know the answer to this one judging by the amount of time we all spend reading on here!
For me though, there's something special about books. We all have different imaginations, if we watch a film, we see things how the film makers want us to see them, they in turn probably see them differently to how the original author imagined them to be. This is proven so many times when I read a wonderful book only to be disappointed when I see the outcome of the movie.
They miss things out in films, probably down to budget, characters get changed and replaced even sometimes cut out all together and what was probably a good enough film on it's own merit turns into a poor copy of an amazing story.
When I read a book, the characters can be whatever my imagination decides them to be, if I want my hero/villain to be Brad Pitt then Brad Pitt he will be. There are no playboy centrefolds in my books either (unless of course the writer has put them there) chosen for the size of their breasts rather then their ability to act.
I often find myself completely lost in my books and oblivious to the world around me as I see the story unfold in my mind. Of course the best time for me to read is when it's quiet and there are no distractions, this is why I read mostly at night when the kids are in bed and I can snuggle up with a good book knowing I won't be disturbed. Saying that if I come across a pure gem then the house could be falling down around my ears and I wouldn't even notice!
I will admit that I don't read many factual books these days, if I'm looking for any particular information I usually just switch on my computer and find anything I need on the internet. This option isn't open to everyone though so libraries are still a valuable resource tool for many people.
I'm not really one for buying books either, firstly because I simply couldn't afford the amount of books I read and secondly because I rarely read a book more than once so any books I do happen to own end up in the back of a cupboard somewhere.
Nowadays I'm the parent taking my daughter to the local library and how times have changed. Our local library is bright and airy. The children's section has bean bags and activity mats scattered around the floor and rather then silence it is filled with chatter and laughter as the children play. This is actively encouraged by the staff and several times a week they arrange activities for children of all ages. Funnily enough though even though no-one else bothers I still find myself telling my daughter to be a bit quieter so as not to disturb the other users!
I've not been in my childhood library for years and thinking about it now I can still here the clinking of the old fashioned ticket machine; sadly these have all been replaced by computers now.
Even more saddening is the fact that the old library is about to be torn down to make way for a super stadium, to me this is such a shame as it had so much character and without it (and my father of course) I don't think I'd have the love of books that I have today.
With this in mind I think that the next time I go visit my parents if I'm not too late and it's still standing I'll go back for one last time. I'll walk through those doors and take a deep breath so I can savour the aroma, then I'll whisper so as not to disturb anyone. 'Thank you'.
I chose to write about my love of books and reading for this opinion as I know it's a passion that Jill shares. God bless Jill xxx
"Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined Ciao, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."