My article today is a response to this week’s Musing Monday random question generated by the marvellous Jen on her blog A Daily Rhythm. Due to the horrendous cold I’ve battling with for the last month, I missed posting this last Monday, but decided I wanted to share it with you anyhow.
Since I was tiny, books have been a draw. My mother says when I was a year old, she’d put me in the high chair with her precious copy of The Readers’ Digest and I would leaf through each page, looking at the pictures and the print without tearing it. It would take me half an hour or so to go through it, apparently.
I could decode my own name, but didn’t learn to read until I went to school, as Mum didn’t want me getting bored at a time when there was no streaming or differentiation. I don’t ever remember struggling, the words just seemed to peel open on the page. I do recall completing a reading test and being told to go along to the TV room, across the quadrangle to watch a show in the Hall – and crying quietly on the way, because I’d wanted to stay in the classroom with the books and my rather stern teacher had shouted at me when I’d asked to do just that. Once in England and at the local primary school, I was allowed to stay in at break and lunchtimes in my last year and tidy the shelves in the small school library – a wonderful treat… When Life became very turbulent during my teens, books were a refuge where I could retreat. I used to read under the bedclothes after I was made to turn the light out, nursing flat batteries back to life by tucking them under my arm.
I married far too young and it didn’t work out. There were a whole raft of reasons for this – but it didn’t help that he wasn’t a reader and didn’t like it much when I got lost between the covers of a book. And after my children were born, I actually stopped reading for seven years, because I knew that if I picked up a book and opened the pages – they could scream because they were hungry… because of a dirty nappy… because they’d fallen down the stairs… and it would be a struggle to put the book down and attend to their needs. Besides, I was busy reading and reciting poems and stories to them from the time they were born – making the next generation of avid readers, so it wasn’t a problem… Except things didn’t work out that way. They are both extremely intelligent and were very precocious, but neither are natural readers, who are born, I’ve discovered, not made… I love them both deeply and am very proud of them, but am I disappointed neither of them inherited my love of books? Oh yes. It would be wonderful to be able to discuss books with them. But, that’s the way it goes – my poor mother hoped that one of her three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren would turn out to share her passion for horses and not one of us has.
I read because I can’t not read. It’s fun. And I’m now married to a man who reads even more than I do, which means we regularly spend a day together curled up in front of the fire, reading. If I’m anywhere without a book (God bless my kindle for making mobile reading so much easier) the world is a greyer, grimmer place. I mostly read speculative fiction as I particularly enjoy opening up a book and never quite knowing what world I’ll plunge into between the covers. The great Terry Pratchett said that writing was the most fun you can have with your clothes on – but reading is right up there alongside it, I reckon.
What about you? Why do you read? Have you always read, or did you discover the joy of books later on? I’d love to know!