Friday, 30 December 2011

On books and reading. And pony books.

Over the past year I have rediscovered the joy of reading.  When I was child and teenager, I avidly devoured novels, getting 6 books at a time from the local library and the following week taking out another 6 until I had quickly exhausted their stocks.  On a Saturday I would walk the 3 miles into town and use my 50p pocket money to buy 2 paperbacks from Boots (who in those days sold books).  My subject of choice was horses and ponies.  I was a pony mad girl.  The 1970s – a golden age of pony books for a child.  The Pullein-Thompson sisters, Monicas Edwards and Dickens, the Jill books, the Jackie books.  Anything that had a picture of a horse on the cover, I bought. By the way, if you are a pony book fan, young or old, go to the fabulous website

I would read under the bedclothes with a torch when I should have been sleeping.  I took a book everywhere with me, so I could snatch any free moments to read.  I remember my parents taking me to a football match with my brother and while they enjoyed the match I read a book.  As well as a source of pleasure and education, books were a wonderful escape.  I was a loner to some extent and they became a  cocoon.  I would have been lost without them.

Fast forward 15 years.  When I commuted regularly on the train to London, I would read a book.  Or write 1000 words.  Each way. 

Fast forward another 15 years, during which reading had been sporadic, mostly work related or for research purposes.  Very few novels had been encountered.  But I read some children’s books, which made me feel good.  I love the way that books for children are usually so positive.

Another 5 years.  Where does the time go?  Then I was handed a copy of Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce, not a book I would have bought.  It was the chosen title for Folkestone Reads, the idea being that everyone in the town read the same book, which is made freely available in the library and local cafes and schools.  Then people can discuss the book with each other and the whole experience encourages intergenerational reading.   What a wonderful idea.  I loved that book.  Positive, warm, funny, clever, engaging, for adults and children alike.  And when the author came to Folkestone to do a Q and A session I was there.  How did I lose the habit of reading?  Something that had once meant so much to me?  I’m so glad I found my long lost friend again.  I don’t read anywhere near as much as I did when I was a child.  But losing yourself in a book is the most wonderful feeling.  Everyone needs to escape.  And every book you read teaches you something.  Learning new things gives you such a buzz. 

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