You know what I like about books? They don’t keep reminding you how old you are.
Lately it seems that every second article I read is about the anniversary of something that I could swear only happened last week. Empire Magazine online, for example, was kind enough to inform me that it has been ten years since Peter Jackson’s take on Lord of the Rings sent the tricksey hobbitses off trekking through dangerous elf-infested lands and made all my mates debate endless on Aragorn/Legolas or Arwen/Éowyn (or, in some cases, both).
The correct answer is, of course, Aragorn. Totally Aragorn. Elves may look pretty, but you’ll never get your hair-straighteners back off them and the fights for the bathroom in the morning will be murder. And both Arwen and Éowyn seem like a good bet for a night out, provided no one surprises them while they are holding cutlery.
And if that didn’t make me feel old enough, Entertainment Weekly was all over ever feed I read as they had put together a (utterly lovely) reunion photo-shoot of the Princess Bride cast to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of year when we all went, “Mmm. As you wish.”
Twenty five years? Inconceivable. It seems like – well, not yesterday, that would be silly – maybe 15 years since it came out? 18 at a push. Has it really been that long? Robin Wright’s luminous portrait photo says no but Cary Elwes’, sadly, says yes indeed it has. Time flies or, more accurately, flees.
I tried to cheer myself up by listening to the radio, only to be reminded that it was 20 years since Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and grunge crashed its way onto my walkman and that both my teen spirit and my walkman are long in the past.
Books are that bit kinder about letting the years slide by. The Princess Bride was released in 1973 but it’s easy enough to pick up the book and forget that it’s heading for forty years of age. You can read and re-read and not be reminded that when first you read it you had braces on your teeth and now you have a brace on your back.
Lord of the Rings is positively spritely about the fact that it is heading for sixty while still topping the best-seller and best-loved lists and wearing the weight of being definitive while still being widely enjoyed. Harry Potter did grow up a bit but doesn’t keep reminding you that he’s gotten fifteen years older, unlike Daniel Radcliffe who grew up extremely quickly and confrontingly. (Equus, anyone?)
Books are kind when they wrap you in memories. While movies feel dated, and music often reminds you of who you were dating (and what were you thinking?), much-loved books are like a re-union with a friend. Full of happy memories made fresh again and not rubbing in the years that have past because, like you, while their pages have been turned a bit and the cover has been bashed a little, they’re still the same thing you always loved on the inside.
And now, if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to catch up with some old friends on my bookcase.