Wow, what a year it’s been. Finally COVID sort of abating, or not, depending where you are, what you do or how you’re feeling. Crazy weather greening the dry Australian outback, flooding the land and sadly, the homes of living things across the continent. A country in Europe continuously under siege, with scenes that put me in awe of a people’s determination and resilience in the face of horror.
In times of uncertainty, of pandemics, and as the economic pendulum continues to swing back and forth, books continue to play a part in people’s lives. Being at home means more time and there is only so much TV that can be watched. As we feel the pinch of inflation we can turn to our library to find all the books we need. And not only books. We can borrow various tools from the tool library (think drills or electric saws), access software programs or read any magazines or audio books. And if we can’t find something, there’s always a friendly librarian to ask. As the world outside changes we can be informed by reading books, gathering in valuable opinions and information from trusted sources.
That’s the thing about books. No matter what you like, or want, to read about, you will find it in a book. From serious subjects like climate change, war, or politics, you will find knowledge that can help you form your own opinion. Books that tell human history give you an insight into our behaviour and, sadly, how we repeat that behaviour again and again. We can read about the good and bad of humanity.
There are books that will lift you up and put a smile on your face. Tales of the funny situations people have found themselves in, or how, no matter what, they look at life in an open and positive way. You can’t help but be swept along.
My favourite books are those of adventure, survival and derring-do.
This year I read The Madhouse at the End of the Earth by Julian Sancton. A wonderful and fascinating tale of exploration to the Antarctic. It always surprises me how resilient humans are. How the danger of a trip to Antarctica on a relatively small wooden boat is outweighed by the desire for adventure and knowledge.
People often say fiction is a form of escape from reality. It truly can be. I can find myself so invested in a novel that I will actually weep. Or I may have a laugh out loud moment or sit there giggling away to myself. I can walk around for weeks after finishing a book, thinking about the characters as if they are real people. Always a sign that it was a good read!
Fiction can also share history in a much more engaging way than dry recounts of a time. Storytellers can bring a time of history alive for us. A great way to learn and visualise those who lived in a particular era.
Fiction can dig deep into a character’s soul and take us within, bringing us an understanding as to what makes different people tick. It can help us to empathise, putting us in someone else’s shoes. And those may be shoes that are quite alien to us, but suddenly that person is not so different after all.
You can take to the skies, space, or even underground. You can do magic, fall in love, or out of love. You can see a bit of yourself in others, and, as I said, laugh or cry, or feel everything in between.
I hope you have a plan to give books for Christmas to at least some of your friends and family. What a gift …
And Baxter, who wishes you all get a puppy for Christmas, or, begrudgingly, a cat.