One of our best customers was in the store this morning, and we were chatting about the effect of the current economic turmoil on the book business (the effect is not particularly positive). He commented, "Well, if everything falls apart, at least I'll have something to read."
That reminded me of a passage from Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales. It's Christmas Eve afternoon, and the narrator and his friend Jim Prothero hear a commotion coming from Jim's house where a fire has evidently broken out. By the time they get there the only thing evident is smoke, but the boys are nonetheless sent out to call the fire brigade (hopefully I'm not violating a copyright here):
"...we...called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's aunt, Miss Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them.
"She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said:
"'Would you like anything to read?'"