I am the first to adopt all sorts of new technology and have benefited greatly from working on-line, with large and complex data sets, on the iPad, the iPhone, and any other piece of time saving technology available; however, I have a lifelong love and commitment to books. Their sheer physicality can never be replaced with technology. They have history, a special smell, a feel, and each one is associated with a different moment in my life.
I particularly like old books. There is something about the way books were produced 100 years ago that makes them more attractive than anything that is on the market today. I grew up with Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Alan Poe, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, Roald Dahl (especially James and the Giant Peach), and the Hardy Boys. Now, I am more prone to dip in an out of Plato, Aristotle and Descartes (the nice, small and natty Everyman editions), as well as some intriguing fiction.
My office is jam packed with books (even after a very painful purging) and my little monastic cell at home has a few hundred more tomes about everything from politics and philosophy to mathematics and magic.
This holiday season, I shall be delving into books on oligarchy, authoritarianism and human rights, along with some escapism through some fiction that is still sitting on the shelf, and even Dalrymple’s monumental Return of the King (funny how history repeats itself).
Nothing beats the satisfaction of holding an old book and appreciating the wafer thin pages, font, look, feel, and size as you curl up with your favourite hot beverage (mine’s a large cup of strong Lavazza) and lose yourself in the words.
I will also be writing and editing a new book called The Magiculum, which is an new exciting project that brings together lifelong magicians from all over the world, who are reflecting on what magic means to them. The essays are all fascinating and all different. Thanks to Enrique Enriquez and Camelia Elias, this book will come to fruition in 2014 from EyeCorner Press!
I also gravitate toward bookshops, especially second hand shops or those that value the magic of books. Wooden floors, shelves bursting with unusual titles, and the sumptuous smell of coffee wafting in the air. These are increasingly rare venues these days, but I hang on to the ones left and approach each new one I find with anticipation and excitement, like Shakespeare and Company in Paris, Watkins, David Drummond, Foyles and Skoob in London, Kramer Books in Washington DC, The Bookworm in Beijing, and many more.
As time slows down a bit this season, I hope we all get a chance to pick up a book and get lost for a while. I know I will…