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Portals of Magic

Once lockdown is over, I am really looking forward to making my primary visit to the Lit & Phil as for me, stepping over the threshold of a previously undiscovered bookshop or library is a new adventure waiting to unfold.

Libraries and old bookshops have always held a fascination. They have an atmosphere of awe that inspires an almost church like reverence and respect for the gathering of so many literary minds, words, stories and worlds. The older they and their books are, the more fascination they hold; harking to a different era with décor and illustrations nostalgically speaking of their own time and place and bringing about a contemplation of who else came here, which books did they hold, how long did the experience stay with them?

I do have grand expectations of any book residence; it should be a place of sanctuary; a place for leisurely browsing; a place of stillness to hear the whispers of resident tomes and a place to breathe the aroma of experienced old volumes intermingled with the freshness of new apprentices.

The importance of these expectations should not be underrated, as selecting a new reading companion is an experience that cannot be hurried and the inspection of any collection should be a contemplation of discovery……..

  • What journey will be embarked upon?
  • Where’s the destination?
  • When will you get there?
  • Who will you go with?
  • Which character will you give your allegiance to?
  • How will they make you feel – how do you want to feel?

Perusing the aisles and scanning the shelves involves taking in a myriad of colours, fonts and illustrations until the eyes interact with that single text that shines out as if stood alone. Reaching to slide it from its companions, the hand palms the cover, taking in its texture, slowly turning it as the fingers stroke the spine, tracing its indentations.

The cover is opened with trepidation in case an erroneous selection has been made, but when it breathes its own unique scent and the correct resonance whispers from fanned pages, the book should be allowed to fall open enabling the self selection of its own audition, during which it will present its writing style, reach out and speak to an unconscious need, seek a connection through a collection of words that interweave with individual imagination and experience, bringing colour, empathy, different realities and dimensions and an escape from the here and now.

With each successful audition the invitation is then open to step inside, meet new friends and embark upon a new journey and although genre preference and experience do shape our decision on whether to proceed, books do have a habit of finding us when we need them most, so I suppose the real questions is: do we choose the book or does the book choose us?



About the author

Linda Coulby

Linda graduated from Newcastle University with a degree in English Language and Literature and then later, from Northumbria University with a PGCE(FE) in Teaching and Training. She currently teaches apprentices on work based learning programmes and has an interest in crafting, creative writing, history and travel.

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