Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not ski-ing, but reading

I'm home after a week in France, in the Alps. I don't ski but those with whom I travelled did - and with a vengeance. While I made an unfeasibly expensive coffee last for as long as I could, they were hauled to the top of mountains, only to fling themselves off again. We'd meet for meals of vast quantities of carbohydrates and they'd discuss near misses and new bruising, before they'd head off again, ready to do it all again.

At 4.12am on the day we left, I received a text from my nephew asking me to bring books. I was delighted to do so of course, but didn't imagine that he'd find any time, with all that ski-ing, to read them. But I was wrong. By the time we got back, he'd read the lot.

It was Damian Kelleher's new novel, Life Interrupted, that had him laughing out loud on occasion. The football-mad younger sibling rang several bells, obviously. There's a lot of sadness in that book too, and he admitted to feeling it - though he didn't cry as I had. Fourteen year-old boys don't, he told me.

His 16 year-old sister, taking a break from a fairly stressful school year, took the week to read Chris Higgins' Love Ya Babe. She's not such a fast and furious reader, but when I heard her say, 'Yes, I'll eat/I'll come/I'll help - once I've finished this chapter,' I was reassured that she too was enjoying herself.

It is magical to be surrounded by all that snow and the astonishing Alpine peaks set against bright blue cloudless skies. My lungs felt like whistles. It was certainly good to have a break from work. But it was also good to be reminded what the work is all about - finding books for readers and readers for books.

It isn't always the case, but on this occasion, I felt I'd done a good job.