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Books And The Five Senses - Hearing

Part 5

· Senses,Collecting,Fine Books,Nova Scotia,Hearing

Books and the Sense of Hearing

Now, I realize that this series should be called “Books, Bookcases and the Five Senses”, since I

keep coming back to bookcases.

We have a number of bookcases with glass doors and each of them sounds differently when
being opened and closed – hence, the first and last sounds associated with reading a particular
book. And the process of removing or replacing a book on a shelf also has its own unique
shuffling sounds. The one sound that has negative connotations is the sound of a book being
forced into a shelf of books. Jamming books together on a shelf damages them all. Ideally, not
too loose and not too tight.

While reading a book the prevalent sound is that of the pages being turned and the sounds vary
according to size and the type of paper used in the book. And we all know the sound of a book
being dropped from sleepy hands but we won’t dwell on that!

A friend of mine travels a fair bit around Atlantic Canada by car and he listens to audio books on
his journeys. I have not gone the audio book route, but it does sound like a very appealing
alternative to music while travelling in the car. And this introduces not only the “voice” of the
author but also the voice of the reader(s). My friend swears by it – as opposed to swearing at it.

broken image

While I have not listened to an audio book, I have had the very good luck of hearing a short
story read over the radio. Incredibly, I have heard the same story, that is about 30 minutes long,
twice. It is Frederick Forsyth’s The Shepard. While he is most known for his thrillers such as
The Day of the Jackal (1973), he wrote this short story for his wife who requested that he write
a ghost story for her. The Shepherd relates the story of a De Havilland Vampire pilot, going
home on Christmas Eve 1957, whose aircraft suffers a complete electrical failure en route
from RAF Celle in northern Germany to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. Lost in fog and low on fuel,

he is met and led (or shepherded) to a disused RAF dispersal field by the pilot of a De Havilland
Mosquito fighter-bomber of World War II vintage, who has apparently been sent up to guide him
in. His attempts to find a rational explanation for his eventual rescue prove as troublesome as
his experience. However, sometime after he lands at the airfield—the fictional RAF Minton—he
learns that his saviour was Johnny Kavanagh, a wartime RAF pilot who had been stationed at
Minton and who had guided crippled bombers home. The Vampire pilot also learns that
Kavanagh disappeared over the North Sea in his Mosquito on his last mission, on Christmas
Eve 1943, exactly fourteen years before.

The story has been broadcast "nearly every Christmas since 1979" in Canada on the CBC Radio One news programme As It Happens. Read by Alan Maitland, the recording always airs
on the last episode on or before Christmas Eve. And that is when I have heard it twice and the
second time I sat in front of the garage door for 10 minutes so that I could hear the whole story.
But to finish on a more traditional and personal note – the last sound I hear every day is the
gentle thud of a book being returned to the bedside table before lights out.

And next week – the last entry in this series “Books and the Sense of Taste”.