I am supremely aware of the irony as I read Arthur Conan-Doyle's words: "Come through the magic door with me and sit here on the green settee, where you can see the old oak case with its untidy lines of volumes… Would you care to hear me talk of them? Well, I ask nothing better, for there is no volume there which is not a dear, personal friend, and what man can talk more pleasantly than that? The other books are over there, but these are my own favourites – the ones I care to re-read and have near my elbow. There is not a tattered cover which does not bring its mellow memories to me."
You see, I am reading these evocative lines about the beauty and enduring pleasure of books on my birthday present from my sister and brother-in-law, an Amazon Kindle! The ultimate in electronic readers its black leather cover conceals a slim, elegant paper-back size piece of wizardry that enables me to download ebooks from the net and then sit here, on the settee (although not a green one) in front of the wood burning stove on this rainy afternoon and read.
I have always loved books, had a passion for bookshops, preferred to spend my hard earned pennies on volumes of text rather than volumes of clothes. Every return visit to the UK sees me ensconced in a bookshop or the local library rather than raiding supermarkets for teabags and Marmite.
You would imagine I might feel guilty, perhaps disloyal, as I hold my 21st century version of Conan Doyle's 'dear, personal friend', but I don't. Someone's brilliant idea means that I have access to thousands of books on this slender gadget. And I find myself getting lost in the text, just like I do with a real book. Reality fades away and I get caught up in the world of the imagination just the same. I absolutely love it and I'm sure Sir Arthur would be delighted that his words live on in a format he could only have dreamed of. This truly is a magic door.