12:54. ‘As a child, I relied on books ’
My father was an ornithologist and he was only interested in nature, so we spent our holidays camping or hiking in different parts of Europe, from Norway to the mountains of Austria. He had a lot of books about birds, which was nice. Why, since I had to spend so much time outdoors, I relied heavily on books to occupy myself. I mean, I didn’t mind watching birds and nature but after two or three hours I found it a bit repetitive, or I quickly lost interest. Books, however, are something that always kept me interested.
I started with books about birds, but my favourite became fictional books.
‘They allow me to escape’
When I read fiction, I am able to enter a world that is not mine; a world where I am confronted with other peoples’ lives. I want to be able to escape and forget about reality.
When I dive into a reading, I don’t want to read about my own life – it’s not that interesting anyway! (She laughs)
‘They stimulate my creativity’
When I read I want to be able to use my imagination, stimulate my mind. I will always prefer reading a book to watching a movie, because through reading, I use my own imagination to create images and visuals that fit the story; the visuals are not handed to me like they are through a movie. Through reading, the visuals I come up with are mine and mine only. Hey – that is actually like creating my own movie!
‘Their images are kind to my soul’
Books are able to tackle difficult and sensitive themes in a way that other arts don’t. To give you an example, in the latest book I read – ‘My Absolute darling’, a very well written book – the author mentions the theme of sexual abuse. It is a very important theme to highlight, but I deem it better to be presented through words than through the violent image on screen of a teenager being raped by an adult.
Oh, I’m sure they will make a movie out of this book and I am also sure I won’t want to watch it!
‘Books are the future’
Books (still) are the future, because reading a book is one of the most relaxing activities one can find. Whenever I travel, I take at least five paper books, so that I leave some of them in the hope that someone else will find them and read them. Sooner or later. So yes, I will always believe in books.
And Europe? Yes, I’ll always believe in Europe.
‘My biggest fear?’
That I get stuck somewhere for hours without anything to read.
(Anne heads the federation for European publishers based in Brussels, Belgium.)