Yesterday’s bookshelf re-organising has happened, and I feel better for it. In the end, I only had to discard about two-feet-worth of books, and they weren’t significant. But looking through my few shelves of Eng Lit – mostly poetry, some fiction and a bit of drama – I began to realise how significant these works have been for me. Even how much they have shaped and changed me. I find it very hard to imagine life without books. However glorious the wonders of the internet, however clever Google is at answering questions and filling in gaps, all you need is a break in power supply to render all that technology useless. Books still contain thought, ideas, imagination, knowledge: and all you need do is pick them off the shelf!
But if marooned on the BBC’s Desert Island, I’d have just the King James Bible and Shakespeare; and in some ways that would be quite enough reading matter. For these great literary products of the English Renaissance contain so much insight into our human lives that one could just read and re-read, muse and reflect, until the rescue ship turned up. Among the theological books on the shelves, I came across a leaflet which said, in the words of an old Sunday School chorus, ‘the best book to read is the Bible’. Well, throw Shakespeare in too, and I’ll sign up to that!