Happy #BookLoversDay

As the late, great Groucho Marx once observed: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read."

And he was right; books, in all their forms, are the key to the magic kingdoms of dreams and imagination - you can never have too many.

As a family, I'm proud to say I can trace the book bug back to at least the early 1800s, when one of my Glasgow forebears, John Wilson, operated a bookbinding business in the High Street.

One of his sons, John Gideon Wilson (1876-1963), began his working life, aged 14, in John Smith & Son, before moving to London, where he ended up managing the prestigious publishing company and bookshop J. & E. Bumpus Ltd., in Oxford Street.

A friend and confident of such literary luminaries as HG Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, H E Bates, Neil Munro, and Eric Gill, he was described as, 'the most famous English (sic) bookseller of his time'.

'Uncle John', although I never met him, viewed 'bookselling not so much as a matter of retail trade but as a service in which bookseller and customer met and shared the experience of contact with the precious manifestations of the spirit of man'.

I like that.

His son, the Uncle Johnnie who I did know, continued the family tradition, managing the famous London bookshop Hatchards of Piccadilly, and, whenever I was in the big smoke, would give me free run of the shop's shelves. I was like a pig in the proverbial!

Anyway, to today's picture, and it's a beautiful little book bug, snapped by Oscar Marzaroli, outside John Smith & Son, in St Vincent Street, in 1962.

Founded in 1751, Smith's is now the oldest bookselling company in the English-speaking world. The St Vincent Street premises, to which my own architect grandfather added an extra storey in the 1920s, was their principal shop. A young Billy Connolly used to work there, and that's where he got his love of reading.

The original John Smith was a pal of Rabbie Burns, although they fell out when Smith failed to forward the bard his book royalties!

Today, Smith's operates solely as an academic bookseller, and in St Vincent Street books have given way to burgers, with this shop operating as a Five Guys outlet - which makes me sad.

Whatever you are doing today, take a minute to pick up and lose yourself in a book...