What Books Mean to Me by Allison Symes

This is a good topic for More than Writers but a difficult one to keep to 500 words! Here goes…

What books mean to me depends on the book. I’ll always treasure The Lord of the Rings for its scale and for introducing me to fantasy. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice introduced me to irony and humour in fiction. I love humorous writing and can’t imagine my shelves without P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett.

Books have always been an escape when I must switch off.. Books take me into worlds I can never hope to visit (back to TLOTR again!), backwards and forwards in time (historical fiction and sci-fi covered there), and enable me to work out “whodunnit” in a crime story.

Books can reflect my mood or take me out of it, depending on how I feel. I can explore the longer forms of fiction as well as my favourite short form and flash fiction categories. For the latter I am also reading as research to see what else is being done in my field and to be inspired by what can be done.

When I walk past a certain shelf I see books written and signed by author friends. I treasure those. I also see my books (and the anthologies I’ve contributed to over the years) and those mean a great deal.

Books represent creativity, the joys and challenges of storytelling, and I find it heartening that despite many predictions otherwise, the paperback is still strong. Ebooks are great but I wouldn’t want to see the paperback disappear.

Books take me back in time in another way. I still have on my shelves the four books in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women series I picked up for 15p each in the good old days when your newsagent would stock books (and in a variety of genres, not just the blockbusters).

I’ve inherited my mother’s Charles Dickens collection (and it will take me a long time to get through those). I also have my first book collection - hardback Agatha Christie! Odhams brought these out years ago and I re-read as often as I can. Murder on the Orient Express is my favourite. Why? Different kind of story and I didn’t see the ending coming. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is also brilliant for that.

Books also have a cultural significance. They represent my ability to read and write, which is something I don’t take for granted since it is not universal. (And even less so for women).

I would be in a dilemma as to which books I would save should I be put in the position to only save, say, a dozen. But that is a good dilemma to have. Books should be treasured - and read and re-read and re-read etc.

Writers work with their imaginations. Those have to be kick-started. The best way to do it is by reading inside and outside your genre, And it is fun so win-win there.

Happy reading and writing!  


  1. Oh gosh how much do I love books? And you've mentioned some of my favourites here. I am wedded to my hardbacks and paperbacks - reading online just isn't the same for me. Opening a beloved book is like meeting up with a dear friend after a long absence. nothing can replace that.

    1. I love books no matter what their format. For trips away, I do find the Kindle invaluable, Ruth. Saves valuable luggage room (which is always handy if I plan to buy paperbacks etc whilst away which I often do!).

  2. I love this post. Yes you have included some of my top favourites too. Jane Austen Charles Dickens JRR Tolkien, PG Wodehouse. They are all masters, forever inspiring us. The love of reading is such a precious gift. I keep well loved books for years no matter how scruffy they become. It is almost as if they are horcruxes...


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