Ode to Books by Carike Claassen

A week or two ago, I found myself in a place I had nearly forgotten existed: The local library. It was, in a world gone digital, a trip down memory lane.

As a little girl, I used to love weekly trips to the library with my mother. The anticipation of gathering up last week’s books in order to return them, and setting off to the library. Diving into the miraculous, cool quiet of a world of books, eager to see which gem would be discovered that day.

Fast forward a few years (okay, decades) and the love of reading remains. But I have to wonder if we’ve lost some soul to digital books. Please, don’t misunderstand me – I love my Kindle. Surprisingly much, for someone who used to think of herself as somewhat of a purist when it came to books and reading and therefore never expected to like e-books at all.

But to walk through a library, or a bookstore for that matter, and run your fingers along the multicoloured spines reclining on the shelves. To inhale the unique scent of old books and listen to the faint rustling of pages as they are leisurely turned by fellow browsers. And then, the ultimate thrill – the flutter of excitement at recognising a title you love (or know that you possibly could, if only the two of you could spend some time getting to know each other.)

There is a sensuality and warmth to books and libraries that we need to revel in. We’ve seen the value of Slow Living – Slow Food and Slow Cities. Maybe it’s time we indulge in some Slow Reading, too.

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