“…not like a railway booking office…”

There is a truly worthwhile article in The Canberra Times that you should read in its entirety for, if nothing else, its sincerity. I cannot resist quoting here, however, part of a radio address given by the economist John Maynard Keynes. It’s just one of those collections of words that you (I) wish you (I) could have articulated your(my)self.

The reader, he said, “with all his senses… should know their touch and their smell. He should learn how to take them in his hands, rustle their pages and reach in a few seconds a first intuitive impression of what they contain. He should, in the course of time, have touched many thousands, at least 10 times as many as he really reads. He should cast an eye over books as a shepherd over sheep … He should live with more books than he reads, with a penumbra of unread pages, of which he knows the general character and content, fluttering round him. This is the purpose of libraries …

“It is also the purpose of good bookshops, both new and secondhand, of which there are still some, and would that there were more. A bookshop is not like a railway booking-office which one approaches knowing what one wants. One should enter it vaguely, almost in a dream, and allow what is there freely to attract and influence the eye.

“To walk the rounds of the bookshops, dipping in as curiosity dictates, should be an afternoon’s entertainment. Feel no shyness or compunction in taking it. Bookshops exist to provide it; and the booksellers welcome it, knowing how it will end.”

I’ll drink to that.

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3 Comments

Filed under The Stuff of Stuff

3 responses to ““…not like a railway booking office…”

  1. Julie von Zerneck

    I just loved every word of that. Thanks so much for that.

  2. Donna

    Ah..yes, to make the rounds of bookshops browsing and dipping in. Too bad there are so few of them left. I celebrate our small surviving precious Portrait of a Bookstore.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing that. Loved it.

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