I’ve been taking refuge in books. There are terrible things happening in the world. Shootings and bombings and political upheavals and every time I watch the news, my heart sinks a little more.

So, I need a refuge. Not a hiding place. I don’t want to stop noticing the news. I just want a place where I can get away and breath for a while. And that is books. Because if I watch the television or go online, I find myself drifting towards the news. But books – I can forget the world for a while in books.

But a good book also helps us understand the world. Even a book that is in no way relevant to what is happening out there can show us a new viewpoint, can make us see the world slightly differently, give us comfort, soothe our pain, change our mind.

Jane Austen has been castigated for not writing about the Napoleonic wars in her books, but she understood that whilst terrible things are happening, the world still goes on, and perhaps people need to be reminded of that.

I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett. It’s my place to hide from yet another shocking headline. And it’s a reminder that life goes on, people still eat and sleep and fall in love and do their jobs. It seems as if the world is falling apart, but it isn’t, not just yet.

I think this has always been the magic of books. It’s a place to go for a while, just until we’re ready to deal with it again, and they give us the knowledge to cope with the world.

So if you don’t feel you can write because of the terrible things happening, remember, somebody, somewhere, needs your book to get through the day.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby


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