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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.
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?

Aidan Chambers

Books are essential to me. I cannot live without them, because I cannot live without reading.

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.

Aidan Chambers

Aidan Chambers
Aidan Chambers

Born: December 27, 1934

Profession: Author