The British writer Ruth Rendell once said “Some say life’s the thing, I— prefer reading”
That statement although a slight exaggeration, has a lot of truth.
Books rarely let you down. Even if, for whatever reason, they don’t appeal to you, you can always find something
enjoyable about them. The cover, the smell—– whatever. A book is boring? You get another book. No feelings are
hurt– there are no misinterpretations. Books never think you’re cold or cerebral , they set forth stories, ideas, theories—that you “buy” or not.
Over the years a few books stand out in the bringing of solace and pleasure.
Anything by John Irving, most especially The World According To Garp.
I first discovered this book in a way I often do, through a really good movie.
84 Charing Cross Road, was a intelligent feel good movie starring the great, and sorely missed, Anne Bancroft and the very touching Anthony Hopkins. I saw this movie, loved it, and went on living my life.
Years later, I came upon an article that delighted over the book (which enjoys a small cult following)
and the same week a customer of mine, who has impeccable taste, mentioned it. I went out the next day and bought a copy. I have read it at least twenty times since. The book is a correspondence between a New York writer, Helene Hanff and a London bookseller, Frank Doel. Frank works for Marks and Co. booksellers located at 84 Charing Cross Road. Their correspondence spans over 30 years, it is delightful, humorous and irresistible to the lover of books.
I have since read Hanff’s other books, I liked them, she’s funny and well-read, but, Charing Cross is to me unique in it’s warmth and succinctness. It’s a small book, novella length and thus can be read and re-read, it is not a massive undertaking. A couple of hours spent with an old “friend”.
I can’t tell you how much it has helped me over the tough times over the years
this post also appears at bookishinmtl