On the navigation menu for my website you should see the one titled Survey – A Life of Books and if you clicked on it, you’ll know something about the project and maybe you even filled in the survey (if so, thank you).
I’m undertaking a song writing project, supported using public funding by the Arts Council, examining the relationship many of us enjoy, even revere, with reading and the printed book.
I’m not a luddite when it comes to reading, I own a kindle and I use it often, but certain physical books in particular have always held a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. These aren’t necessarily highbrow or expensive editions, but books I have read many times and I remember where and when I bought them. Several, like Asimov’s, remind me of when I was younger and the books my dad read. Some, like my George Orwell books were all bought in the same year from the same bookshop on Castle Street, Liverpool and others loved and collected for a myriad of reasons and I just can’t bear to part with them. It’s personal, like a record collection. I still buy books all the time and I am surrounded by them every day.
For just over a year now, I’ve worked part time as the manager of a typically wonderful second hand bookshop; George Street Community Bookshop in Glossop. Talking to customers, whether they read, classics, bestsellers, non-fiction, whatever, I was struck by their passion for what they read. Over the months the idea for this project came to me from these conversations. My brief is pretty straight forward; Write songs that do justice for all the many and personal reasons that people love books.
To help me I’ve created the survey referred to above and I’d love you to complete it. It isn’t an academic undertaking; I’m trying to capture the emotional and intellectual heart of our love for books. They hold memories for us along with the stories they impart and somehow, I want to get that content, or spirit and soul into the songs. Further, I’m hoping to encourage reading throughout our community. I know that children love books, they instinctively recognise which books are ‘theirs’ even if they haven’t been in a bookshop before. They recognise something about the colours and typefaces and their faces light up. Unfortunately, with libraries closing, schools strapped for cash and a move to digital screens, books are seen as something less important than I believe they are. The surveys returned so far confirm my belief. Books for young people are a gateway to enlightenment and thought, to concepts that wouldn’t occur if you’d never read a book.
I will be blogging on this project over the next six months or so and I’m hoping to raise the profile of the important role Bookshops play in the development of our personalities and understanding. At the very least I hope to have a collection of interesting songs you’ll enjoy listening to. While you read.