It makes me happy when I see visitors engaged in a book they've pulled out, or when they disappear up into their rooms, or out into the garden, with a couple well-chosen volumes under their arm. Books are good friends. Our very first workshops a few years ago were on Artists’ Books. There are still traces from these around the house. Last month we had a week on creative writing. Participants, and teachers, hung around the big table discussing plots, metaphors, seduction and the meaning of literature. And last week we had Kerstin here, giving lectures on the memories of Al-Andalus. While discussing the history of Córdoba - merely an hour away from Málaga - the subject of books, of course, came up. Kerstin told us about how books and papermaking spread westward across Africa to Al-Andalus, and about Al-Hakam, the famous Umayyad Caliph of Spain, and his rich collection of books that laid the foundation for intellectual study in Spain.
In the 10th century Al-Hakam II opened up library after library. In addition, poets, many of them born and raised in Córdoba, had a tremendous political influence. They were treated with a respect unheard of - and, sometimes sent in exile because of their potential political danger. Córdoba with its libraries had become the intellectual center of Europe. People bought, wrote, and collected books. The libraries grew with rapidity -- even though books were still copied by hand! It is said that the city was famous for housing libraries with well over 400,000 books while having a population of 100,000, making it one of the most splendid cities in the world at the time.
So, thinking about it, I take it back. I do not have a house full of books. It’s merely a drop in the ocean. But I love them all.