A 1938 Christmas article for W.H. Smith's own magazine The Book Window by Collie Knox. Knox was a much published journalist who also wrote lyrics. He was a friend of Chips Channon from whose collection this came. A potboiler of an article of the kind that could no longer be written. Some of the sentiment about books has recently been revived in the face of Kindle and the decline of book reading among coming generations. The idea of coming back to a room full of books (even a study) is still attractive and trumps coming home to a thin grey slab...
Dreams for Sale
CALL no man friendless while he owns one book.
After your day’s work do you go to your home–large or small–where, ranged round your own particular room, are rows of books? It is to be hoped that you do so, for, once there are books within reach, you need never feel lonely.
Most of us lead painfully hectic lives in this age of pace. So little time there is for peaceful–unhurried things. We dash home only to dash out again–to mingle with large numbers of strangers who have been bidden to meet at this or that social activity. Further and further away from us rolls that heaven-given blessing–“A quiet evening at home.”
Waiting for us at home, weary, sad and neglected, are some of our best, our most real friends. Neatly ranged on their cosy shelves they wait eager to transport us out of a grey mood into an hour or two of excitement– of forgetfulness. To teach us by gentle example–to lead us into lands of memory–to smooth our cares and to assuage our workaday worries.
Here, indeed, lie the panaceas for almost every ailment of the mind.
At Christmas–is it really so soon upon us?–I never give any present but the present of books. I choose my books with the care with which I choose my friends. Knowing their funny little ways, their idiosyncrasies–their unrealised dreams–I choose books for them accordingly.
To the man whose days are spent toiling at an office–perhaps an office which has singularly failed to appreciate his talents–I give a book of gay adventure in far-off lands where the sun shines on lazy placid seas and the sunsets are of colourful beauty. Where there is no 8.15 train to catch to work in the morning–no straps on which to hang. To the girl who is embittered and alone I give a tale of that happiness for which she has long since given up hoping. To the brave at heart, a tale of the heroism of quiet men and women–to the cynic, new belief–to them all, the staunch comradeship of books.
I do not know about you, but when I have a free evening, which is not often, alas, I hie me to my home. As I turn on the light in my study there I see my friends–my books–welcoming me. I kicked the fire into a blaze and am well content that the curtains shall shut out the night.
My hand ranges over the shelves–and I take down a book. Maybe it is new–maybe it is old. No matter. It is bought me surcease before; it will do so again.
Into my easy chair I sink–and with a sigh of content–of delicious anticipation–I am off into the realms of enchantment.
Like you–in this case–for a while I am my own master. Fate cannot harm me.
Within those bright covers are dreams for sale–for all of us.
Which will you buy?–For an hour–or two?