I don’t know if I will ever come to terms with e-books. They seem so clinical, and how do you read in the bath? For real books I have a tendency to use whatever comes to hand as a bookmark – coasters, rulers, magazines – and have never been allowed to live down the time I used a pair of pliers (they were only a small pair!).
Something else you can’t have with e-books is a second-hand book sale. The majority of my books have been acquired second-hand, and half the fun is in the finding.
I have a copy of The Song Celestial, translated from the Sanskrit by Sir Edwin Arnold. There is a long handwritten note in the front, encouraging someone – Gys, I think – to ‘search this patiently and diligently’. The little book does not look well used, so one wonders if the recipient ever did. The date is 1945, along with a place-name which is infuriatingly difficult to read.
A ‘teach yourself’ book on Air Navigation contained a letter from the Air Directorate. Dated 1949, it was addressed to a Mr. Hatton, confirming his acceptance for pupil pilot training.
A copy of Handel’s Messiah (gilt-edged! – show me the e-book that can compete) had a programme for a performance in 1963, and one of the two names written on the flyleaf was listed as the principal soprano.
Old books can be sad, when they were obviously once important to someone, but have been ‘got rid of’. It is demoralising to think that my own books will no doubt be in this position one day. I have a large collection of music books, but it seems fewer and fewer people are bothering to learn to play an instrument. My husband comes from a large family, and I have around 15 nieces and nephews, and not a musician among them.