IT was Mark Twain who famously said that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.
I’m often reminded of it on Good Friday; not because of that other famously exaggerated death, but because of a certain phenomenon that’s been part of Bendigo’s history for the past 35 years.
The biggest queue on Friday morning wasn’t outside a church.
Instead, it snaked around the corner of Mundy and Myers streets; hundreds of devotees lined up with shopping jeeps and green bags, hungry for first pickings at the YMCA Easter Book Fair.
The media has been foreshadowing the demise of print books since the first e-readers hit the stores in the mid-noughties, yet people’s appetites for “real” books never seems to wane.
A week ago I was at Readings in Lygon Street on a Saturday afternoon and had to jostle for position to get anywhere near the famous bargain table. There were definitely no signs of mourning.
I left with smell of new books in my nostrils; the Kindle gathering dust in the glovebox of my car. I’ve had it for a couple of years now; got excited initially, downloading those first few cheap titles.
I’ve read one novel on it during that time, a couple of self-help books, but more often than not, the time spent with my e-reader has been disappointing.
It mucks up the formatting of poetry, does weird things to illustrations, and just doesn’t feel like reading matter should in the hand.
You curl up with a good book. And there’s no better feeling than drifting off to sleep with the leaves of a book folded open against your chest. Like you might absorb those beautiful words directly into your heart.
It might be true that reading matter is only as good as its content, but I’ve been known to forgive a bad book, just for the fact that it’s a book. The perfect meditation of page leafing; the feel of the paper between your fingertips.
I saw it in the faces of those eager bookworms at the YMCA on Friday. The sated expressions as they stepped into the sunlight with their green bags bursting at the seams.
The other day I was walking through a much-loved family home with a local real estate agent.
She commented that one of the first things she noticed on entering someone’s home was whether they were book people or not.
“A room without books is like a body without a soul,” Cicero wrote.
The house we were walking through had bookcases collecting beautiful dust in every room. It spoke so much of the family who lived there; their interests, their beliefs, their past.
As we entered one of the upstairs rooms, its arched windows overlooking the garden, both of us said the same thing.
What a perfect place to curl up with a book.