Books are the new black.

etsy3 – Ernest Hemingway said: “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”

It’s world book day 2015, and as good an excuse as any to explore the reasons why  – in my opinion – books will always be trendy.

I always feel a bit out of the loop when people reflect on their favourite childhood pastimes, games and consoles. “You must have had a playstation!” they cry in disbelief.

On the contrary, I did not own a Playstation, a Gameboy, or an Xbox. I didn’t play Pokemon and I don’t think I’ve even completed a game of Monopoly. When I find myself trapped in these reminiscent conversations, I do start to question what on earth I did with my time, and whether my mum just locked me in a cupboard under the stairs and I’ve simply managed to repress it thus far.

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“The more you read, the more you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.” – Dr Seuss.

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Assuming that my parents did not subject me to any such treatment, the constant pastime for me was that of books. Whether it stories of wizards, wars or even windmills; I have hundreds upon hundreds of happy memories spent as a serial page turner.

behance.net

Books are so indisputably important. They’re a means of escape to hundreds of people on an otherwise rotten day. They’re the best tool to allow you to grow as a writer, teaching you words that otherwise would sound like gobbledygook. They act an insight into someone else’s mind, day or even world. The give you an understanding of places and people that you may be otherwise unable to experience yourself.

The power of the written word is often over-sighted, but should never be underestimated. The film will never be as good as the book, reading the blurb will never be enough, and skim reading quickly past the paragraphs will never be sufficient.

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“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the most accessible and wisest of councillors and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles Eliot.

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Sit yourself down in the most comfortable chair you can find – one of those saggy looking armchairs that looks as though has been sat in by a really wise fat man for years and years. Not a smelly fat man; a really friendly, jolly kind of gent that is more than happy to lend you some time in his lovely chair. Get yourself a cup of coffee and stick your nose in someone’s favourite book. (Make sure your nose is clean if this is someone else’s favourite book, however.)

etsy

Discovering a love for the world of books means that you will never have nothing to do, or nothing to say. You’ll understand the anguish of dropping your book in the bath and watching the paper dry funny, you’ll wince as you fold pack the first corner to mark your place when you’ve lost your bookmark, you’ll sigh when you notice that you’ve bent the spine entirely out of shape. – Or maybe you’ll just understand the annoyance of your kindle battery dying just as you are reaching for your charger.

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“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”

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It doesn’t matter how you read, just read. Pass it on to your brother, sister, cousin, neighbour or even the person next to you on the bus if they don’t look too mental. Recommend your favourite book to someone, stop by a book shop or library and source yourself one of those very saggy chairs.

Books will always be clever and they will always be cool – Happy World Book Day.

etsy1

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Typing with a permanent marker.

Sharpie-marker-types

(via-en.wikipedia)

So the old saying goes: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

All very well to preach, but we’re all too aware of the accidental outbursts, mutterings and slurs that can occur as the result of a sharp tongue, and a lack of consideration.

With advancements in technology, we see changes in the way we interact with one another on a daily basis, and the rise of social media has meant that what was perhaps once merely mumbled under our breath, is now typed and published on the internet without a second thought.

Note that I used the word published there. The misapprehension that the internet is some sort of personal diary is entirely incorrect. Words written there are permanent and the effects of them can be too.

Twitter and Facebook are a cocktail of ‘I just sneezed seven times’, ‘My mums the best’ and ‘I don’t know you very well but happy birthday’, shaken up with holiday pictures, blended with the odd joke and consumed by anyone with an internet connection. This is harmless, and a prominent aspect of life for us internet users.

Recent laws however mean that individuals can be prosecuted for online comments and posts of an offensive nature.

In some ways, this is bizarre. If I shout “Brian is a fat idiot” in my back garden, nobody arrests me. If I then type this online, I could have the police at my door ready to charge. Obviously this is exaggerated, and the statements that do get people in trouble with authorities are a great deal more hurtful. I also don’t know anyone called Brian, so hope I have not offended anyone with my example.

It’s all becoming a bit 1984, with Big Brother scrolling and reading everything we type, click and share. Where is the line drawn to differentiate between what is harmless and what is intended as abuse? How is a nasty comment on twitter so terrible, but a Frankie Boyle joke performed on stage in no way grounds for arrest?

The reality is that writing about someone and publishing this online, is the equivalent of pulling them up on stage and screaming it in their face in front of a few hundred of their friends, neighbours and random passers by. This is a very real development in the online world, that must be treated with caution.

The term ‘troll’ no longer refers to an ugly mythical creature that dwells under a bridge, it describes a different kind of creature that hides behind a keyboard.

The internet isn’t always a soapbox, or a personal newsletter and the world doesn’t need to know every emotion, thought and unkind word that you feel the inexplicable urge to shout from the nearest hilltop. It’s certainly an outlet, but one that we need to understand fully before we run use it as a tannoy.

Often, the old school advice is the best to live by, and if that’s just not enough; get a journal mate.