Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Simple Shelf by Gary Hewitt

Imagining a world without books is like living in a world of no colour and sound. Where would we be without the joys of Dickens, Shakespeare, Hardy, Lovecraft, and goodness me I could go on. Put simply, life without books is no life at all. This makes me ponder what books I would gladly have on my bookshelf.

For me, books have to excite, entertain, captivate and leave you gasping for more. There is nothing better than having the feeling of oh, just let me turn one more page. My favourite book of all time would have to be Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings. The language has been accused of being over-indulgent and publishers today would probably balk at the thought of a 1500 page behemoth flowing through their hands.

I would agree there are moments that are annoying, (Tom Bombadil for one), yet the imagination and storytelling for me are what makes it truly magical. I first read LOTRs when I was about seventeen or eighteen, and it was pretty much the first time I had a book I could not put down, considering it was so damn big. Anyway, after a couple of weeks or so I had finished it, and also experienced one of the best-ever endings. (spoiler) The hobbits return home to find the shire at the mercy of old Sharkey. (Why, oh why, they strayed from this in the Peter Jackson films I’ll never know—it was one of the stand-out moments of the book for goodness sake!)
Another series of books that makes my list of all-time favorites would be the wonderful Henry II Trilogy by Sharon Penman. Her attention to detail is fantastic and I found myself totally absorbed in the world of Simon De Montfort in his pious battle with these troublesome kings. The first novel sees the emergence of Edward from a feisty youth into one of England’s mightiest kings. The second focuses mainly on the Welsh insurgency until Edward’s patience finally snaps with disastrous consequences for Wales. I would certainly recommend reading her novels.
The next book I offer is the bizarre brilliance of Bulgakov in The Master and Margarita. This is a story featuring some of the most surreal images I’ve ever come across. What makes it special is that it was written at a time of supreme suppression in the USSR; it’s a satirical assault on the regime of the times. The world Bulgakov creates is populated by Pontius Pilate, gun-toting human-sized cats, a talking severed head, the devil and of course, Margarita. If that hasn’t tempted you to read this brilliant piece of insanity, then nothing will.
The time has come to sum up. I love reading. I also love writing. If I never learned the art of reading, and being taken away to distant far away places, I sure as hell could never write. To me though, reading books is simply dreaming with words.
UK writer, Gary Hewitt lives in a small village in Kent. He has had several stories published including editions of M-Brane and Morpheus Tales. His style does tend to be dark and is rather unique. He is a member of the Hazlitt Arts Writers’ Group.

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