This week’s guest on Books Spark Joy is Cathryn Hein.
Cathryn is a best-selling author of rural romance and romantic adventure novels, a Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year finalist, and a regular Australian Romance Reader Awards finalist. A South Australian country girl by birth, she loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who’s as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don’t flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful. Cathryn lives Newcastle, Australia with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.
Cathryn’s latest release is EDDIE AND THE SHOW QUEEN, book five in her popular Levenham Love Story series.
Over to Cathryn …
There are not enough books in my house.
Not from lack of buying them – I buy books ALL THE TIME – but they’re ebooks rather than paperbacks and while I adore ebooks and dedicated ereaders for their convenience, affordability, backlighting and the ability to change font size, it’s not the same as having physical books on shelves. There’s something comforting about having pretty spines to stroke, covers to smile over, pages that flip open to favourite scenes. They have a tactile loveliness that ebooks will never have and that I miss hugely.
For many years we had a moveable life and books were a pain to shift. Packers hated them. The boxes were heavy and many. Our moves often had unpacks as part of the deal and the packers would simply upend the boxes on the floor, wrecking spines and covers and bringing me close to tears.
Then ebooks came along and I jumped on that bandwagon with dizzying speed. Ebooks meant I could buy all the books I wanted without fear of them getting damaged and transport them in a single device a few hundred grams in weight. From that point on I started to farewell my paperbacks. I hardened my heart against their papery whispers and passed them to relatives, friends and charity shops, consoled by idea they would bring pleasure to others as they had done to me.
There were two exceptions. The first was personally signed fiction, most given to me by writer buddies. I cannot bring myself to part with those. They have a preciousness beyond their pages.
The second exception was my cookbook collection. Hundreds of books covering a vast range of cuisines, techniques, courses and more, and every one of them a delight. I love those books. They represent generosity, love, sharing and the potential of wonderful days with friends, family and loved ones – all the things I associate with food and cooking.
Then eighteen months ago we moved again, this time into a cosy cottage. So cosy we could barely fit our basic furniture in let alone bookshelves. My book collection, which had already suffered a dramatic cull, had to be thinned again and this time it was the cookbooks that took the brunt.
I’m not ashamed to say I cried. My house, once so decorated with books, was made ugly by the space they left behind.
I still feel their loss. It catches me sharply sometimes and I think, where are my books? Where has my reading life gone?
I still have some books though. Wonderful, beautiful novels I cannot part with. Writing craft books, of which I have too many and not enough. And cookbooks. Fewer than I once owned but the ones that remain are special. A combination of tried and true, and those I simply like to look at for fun.
It’s from this collection that comes the book that sparks the most joy for me. The book I would grab in a fire, if I had the chance. It’s not a proper book though. It has no title, no glossy cover. It’s a folder containing my favourite recipes, the ones I make over and over, that have been handed down to me or taken from a magazine or cookbook and tweaked and moulded to suit our life and never fail to deliver on taste.
Any other book I could buy again but this? This is irreplaceable.
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