As a child, I was a vociferous reader. At times being known to read a book a day. They were my escape. Despite coming from a very large family - I was the youngest of five - there were some quite large age gaps so I had the privilege of having a large family but also spent quite a while as almost an only child. I was very lucky with my sisters and brother doing amazing things though it did mean I spent quite a lot of time on my own. We were forever moving so I never formed any close friendships bar one with whom I am still friends. The books were my friends. Don't get me wrong my childhood was idyllic. I can remember my parents and my sisters reading to me when I was very small. When I was older my eldest sister, who also happened to be one of my godparents, would buy wonderful books for me. I still have the book of poetry she bought me tucked away. Unfortunately, I can't find an image of the book.
The other thing I can remember vividly is being read to at school. Some wonderful stories such as Clive King's Stig of the Dump, Ian Serraillier's The Silver Sword, Nina Bawden's Carrie's War and
At home, my stories tended to have more of a familiar theme: horses. I was passionate about them. I kept being told that at the next house we would have a paddock and I could have my own. It never materialised lol. This is where I would really live my dreams through my books. I would read Elyne Mitchell's The Silver Brumby series, Mary O'Hara My Friend Flicka and all the stories by the Pullein-Thompson sisters. I would relive the stories in the garden with our poor dog, Henry, who was my pretend horse. He was made to jump various courses I created. Bless him he was very willing and tolerant. I would also devour Edith Nesbit and The Railway Children, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, and of course, Noel Streatfield with Ballet Shoes. I still dip into it every now and then.
As I got older I moved on to Daphne Du Maurier. I can also remember vividly reading her book Rule Britannia and taking it into school as my current book. This was before secondary school. Oh so precocious! I then have a confession. I think I at some point I moved onto Jilly Cooper...well she did have horses in it ;-). I adored Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals which I had to study for O'Level (yes I am that old!). It lived with me for a long time. I was also into D H Lawrence. In the Sixth Form we tormented a poor newly qualified, delicious looking English teacher when we were studying Lawrence's Three Novellas, discussing any potential innuendo in minute detail while we watched him blush. 17-year-olds can be cruel looking back.
Books are a joy. Thinking about this post has brought back so many happy memories. They always say music and smell can take you back to a certain moment in time but I think a book can too. Books can be places of safety to hide in, places to find consolation, to find moments of joy and hope. They are places where you can work out who you are, and just as importantly, who you are not. You can ask questions without being laughed at, seeking and finding the answers time and again without mockery. Books are hugs in a page. They are magical.
How about a little bit of Laura Mvula and 'That's Alright!'