Few pleasures, for the true reader, rival the pleasure of browsing unhurriedly among books: old books, new books, library books, other people's books, one's own books - it does not matter whose or where. Simply to be among books, glancing at one here, reading a page from one over there, enjoying them all as objects to be touched, looked at, even smelt, is a deep satisfaction. And often, very often, while browsing haphazardly, looking for nothing in particular, you pick up a volume that suddenly excites you, and you know that this one of all the others you must read. Those are great moments - and the books we come across like that are often the most memorable.Aidan Chambers
I’ve always been a slow learner in some areas of my life.mostly the areas known as myself. Or maybe I should say ‘selves.’because the fact is, I’ve never, even as a child, felt I’m only one self, only one person. I’ve always felt I’m quite a few more than one. For example, there’s my jokey self, there’s my morose and fed-up self,there’s my lewd and disgusting self. There’s my clever-clogs self, and my fading-violet-who-cant-make-up-her-mind-about-anything self. There’s my untidy-clothes-everywhere-all-over-my-room self, and my manically tidy self when I want my room to be minimalist and Zen to the nth degree. There’s my confidant, arrogant self and my polite and reasonable and good listener self. There’s my self-righteous self and my wickedly bad self, my flaky self and my bsentimental self. There are selfs I like and selfs I don’t like.there’s my little-girl selfnwhonlikes to play silly games and there’s my old-woman self when I’m quite sure I’m eighty and edging towards geriatric.Aidan Chambers
The self I show in action at any moment depends on where I am, who I’m with, the circumstances of the situation and the mood I’m in.
I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and he Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers.Aidan Chambers
Are people like that? I wondered. Am I like that? Always me, like the river itself, always flowing but always different, like the water flowing in the river, sometimes walking steadily along andante, sometimes surging over rapids furioso, sometimes meandering wit hardly any visible movement tranquilo, lento, ppp pianissimo, sometimes gurgling giacoso with pleasure, sometimes sparkling brillante in the sun, sometimes lacrimoso, sometimes appassionato, sometimes misterioso, sometimes pesante, sometimes legato, sometimes staccato, sometimes sospirando, sometimes vivace, and always, I hope, amoroso.
Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?
Secrets. Funny how, when you're about to be given something precious, something you've wanted for a long time, you suddenly feel nervous over taking it.Aidan Chambers
Everyone wants more than anything to be allowed into someone else's most secret self. Everyone wants to allow someone into their most secret self. Everyone feels so alone inside that their deepest wish is for someone to know their secret being, because then they are alone no longer. Don't we all long for this? Yet when it's offered it's frightening, because you might not live up to the desires of the one who bestows the gift. And frightening because you know that accepting such a gift means you'll want-perhaps be expected- to offer a similar gift in return. Which means giving your *self* away. And what's more frightening than that?
Books are essential to me. I cannot live without them, because I cannot live without reading.Aidan Chambers
But, Arry has just said to me, you can always borrow them so why buy them?
I don't buy books just to collect them. I'm not a collector. I'm not interested in them as objects that might be valuable one day, regardless of what they are about, nor do I want to own every book ever written by one particular author or on one particular subject. I buy them because I want to read them, and I keep them because I've read them.
I can't afford to buy all the ones I'd like to, so I have to borrow quite a few, and this has taught me something about myself, which I haven't heard anyone else admit. When I've read a book which I really like, a book which MATTERS, I feel it belongs to me. I mean, the book itself, the copy I've read. It's as if I pour myself onto the pages as I read them, all my thoughts and emotions, so that by the time I've finished that copy holds inside it the essence of my reading.
A borrowed book has to be returned, so I lose this essence of myself when I give it back. Besides which, a borrowed book has inside it something of everyone else who's read it. They've fingered it and pawed over it, breathed on it, done heaven knows what else as well as read it. And knowing this spoils my reading. The other readers get in my way. I can feel their presence on the cover and on the pages. They even make it smell differently from my own books. In fact, to my mind they've polluted the book and everything in it. That is also why I never buy second-hand books.
How do I think of you? As someone I want to be with. As someone as young as me, but "older," if that makes sense. As someone I like to look at, not just because you're good to look at, but because just looking at you makes me smile and feel happier. As someone who knows her mind and who I envy for that. As someone who is strong in herself without seeming to need anyone else to help her. As someone who makes me thinks and unsettles me in a way that makes me feel more alive.Aidan Chambers
Born: December 27, 1934