foylesYou will enjoy this paean to books by Julian Barnes: discovering the vast worlds that reading can open up, and the joy of owning books.

I have lived in books, for books, by and with books; in recent years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live from books. And it was through books that I first realised there were other worlds beyond my own; first imagined what it might be like to be another person; first encountered that deeply intimate bond made when a writer’s voice gets inside a reader’s head. I was perhaps lucky that for the first 10 years of my life there was no competition from television; and when one finally arrived in the household, it was under the strict control of my parents. They were both schoolteachers, so respect for the book and what it contained were implicit. We didn’t go to church, but we did go to the library. …  I grew up assuming that all homes contained books; that this was normal. …

“I bought with a hunger that I recognise, looking back, was a kind of neediness: well, bibliomania is a known condition. Book-buying certainly consumed more than half of my disposable income. I bought first editions of the writers I most admired: Waugh, Greene, Huxley, Durrell, Betjeman. I bought first editions of Victorian poets such as Tennyson and Browning (neither of whom I had read) because they seemed astonishingly cheap. The dividing line between books I liked, books I thought I would like, books I hoped I would like and books I didn’t like now but thought I might at some future date was rarely distinct.”

To read more, go to https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jun/29/my-life-as-bibliophile-julian-barnes.

I took this photo at Foyle’s—my favourite bookshop in London. How can you resist a bookshop that greets you with these words?