For me it was a story about a man called Mr Flop who was a flower collector. Mr Flop gathered up faded and dying flowers and whisked them off on a flying apple-tree branch (sort of prototype of Harry Potter’s Nimbus 2000) to the Kingdom of Flowers where they ‘regained their lost beauty and perfume and became more beautiful than ever’.
I loved the idea, but even more appealing was that Mr Flop whisked off the young heroine for a magical visit to the Kingdom on his flying branch. And what was the young heroine’s name? Alice? Dorothy? Wendy? No, they’d already had their fun. It was Laurette.
Vaguely my five-year-old brain sensed that Justice had been done, and a Divine Finger pointed. Books became a passion.
They’re a passion for lots of us, aren’t they?
Sadly, not as much as they used to be, according to an article in The Atlantic magazine in January 2014, which reported that the number of non-book-readers had tripled since 1978.
Is the American Bookworm becoming a threatened species? Fortunately not all was doom and gloom. Sifting through the statistics, the author ended on a fairly optimistic note, at least as far as the 18-to-21-year-old group of readers was concerned.
But this was in the US. Skipping across the ocean, the outlook is much brighter. Four months earlier the BBC News Magazine (October 2013) had revealed that Icelanders are not only passionate readers, one in ten of them will actually publish a book:
…this island nation of just over 300,000 people has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.
Hooray! A mutated strain of the American Bookworm is alive and well among the geysers.
Passionate readers, passionate writers. Which brings me nicely to the idea behind this blog, talking about things that people are passionate about. Maybe a book, maybe an author, maybe a character. Maybe a bee. Or a tomato. Or a white cube. Whatever gets me, and hopefully you, going.
Before signing off, here’s an interesting footnote. I looked up Laurette Meets Mr Flop on the Internet, naturellement. It’s out of print, but there are images of the cover that look a lot like my battered survivor.
And, if you’re interested, there’s a second-hand copy for sale, for a mere €63.82. Vindication for all hoarders.
Describing its condition, the vendor has the most charmingly persuasive phrase:
‘The book,’ he says, ‘has obviously been enjoyed.’
P.S Thanks to Ian for sending me a picture of his copy of ‘Where’s Wumpus?’ (see comments). Great cosy domestic scene with animals. And another book that ‘has obviously been enjoyed.’