It seems wrong for an aspiring author not to mention the magic that is today – World Book Day – and so I present this honorary blog post where I share my World of Books.
There is an ancient video somewhere of my mum reading The Family at Red Roofs by Enid Bylton to me at bedtime – I have no memory of the story or it being read to me but I love watching the video because it captures the magic of the shared story experience. An experience which starts the reading journey for most children – listening to stories at bedtime.
I do remember listening to The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl, a story which our four year old son is now enjoying listening to all these years later. I remember listening to story cassette tapes in the car on long journeys – yes, tapes. A concept which will be lost on our children, who listen to stories via the wifi and a magnetic character sensor.
The first chapter books I remember reading were the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels – I devoured them all – Puppies in the Pantry, Kittens in the Kitchen, Hedgehogs in the Hall…well, you get the idea! They were the perfect blend of slightly different stories in the exact same format each time – classic early reader stories. Years later I would learn that my beloved Lucy Daniels was not an author, or even a real person, she was a group of writers all trained to deliver the predictable animal tomfoolery I’d loved. My mind was blown.
My favourite childhood book was Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine, a retelling of the traditional tale Cinderella – but in this version, Ella saves herself by being kind. Female empowerment and kindness in one book – I still read it once a year or so, just because. Closely followed by Louis Sachar’s Holes.
Much later, in adulthood, I first read some of my favourite Young Adult novels – Junk by Melvin Burgess, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Wonder by RJ Palacio, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon…now I’ve started remembering, I feel guilty for having favourites, but there have been so many amazing books I’ve read over the years I would be here all night listing them.
An interest in theatre and performance saw me consuming works by Ibsen, Shakespeare, Caryl Churchill and poetry by Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Anne Duffy and John Agard.
My two best friends often give me books as presents – always winners whether children’s books, non-fiction or stories aimed at adults; they know me, so they know what I’ll love or what I should read. They love sharing the books which they’ve loved reading and I love them for that. My husband is very tolerant of me reading books over his shoulder – he begins each new book reminding me that I can always read it after he’s finished but by page 50 he has inevitably started talking about the plot and characters until I am hooked in and spy-read his book disjointedly whilst also reading my own.
My favourite authors for adults are Susan Hill, Ben Elton and Jussi Adler Olsen – a trio of drama, darkness, horror, thriller and social commentary. I love books which make me think and make me feel – and these authors are my guilty pleasure. They are the books which stay with me long after I’ve finished reading them. I also love books which make me laugh out loud – a recent joy has been the Rosie trilogy of books by Graeme Simsion, the genius who created Don Tillman – one of my favourite fictional characters of all time.
It seems to me that reading is about sharing – from the earliest memories of being read to, to the excitement of reading and sharing an amazing book with someone else, right into the core of reading itself – an author sharing the world they have created with the reader. I would love to hear about your favourite books and hope you feel inspired to share them.
So Happy World Book Day to you – now, go share a book!