From the adventures of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree, Michelle Magorian’s Goodnight Mr Tom and Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole to the beautifully crafted Heidi by Johanna Spyri, What Katy Did by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (under the name of Susan Coolidge), J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, my childhood was spent with my head firmly buried in a book. One of my favourite activities after school was visiting our local library, which my sisters, mother and I did every week.
My love of reading has followed me throughout my life. As a teenager I became obsessed with autobiographies, diaries, Jane Austin and Emily Brontë, reading and re-reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Diary of Anne Frank, Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Wuthering Heights until my copies were so tattered that I had to buy new ones. In my twenties I adored Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and cried at Dave Peltzer’s A Child Called It and John Grogan’s Marley and Me. I became fascinated with the Cosa Nostra, devouring books on the history of Italian-American gangsters and started reading biographies of celebrities from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I continued to read Maya Angelou, I loved Bill Bryson’s travel adventures and I discovered the eye-opening exploits of Belle De Jour (who puts the Fifty Shades of Grey nonsense to shame), and I read the Harry Potter series in the order of 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 6, 7 after my mother bought me the fourth book as a birthday present one year. I read the dystopian novels of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale (I still think of it every time I see the small packets of butter in restaurants) and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. While I am not a huge horror fan, I went through a Stephen King phase after reading Rose Madder, and read Carrie, Thinner and Four Past Midnight in just a few months. In my thirties I was (and still am) inspired by Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman and AJ Rochester’s Confessions of a Reformed Dieter, and I’ve giggled at Tom Cox’s experiences with his cats in The Good, The Bad and The Furry.
As a teacher, I encourage my students to read as often as possible and I am pleased that I work at a school where a love of reading and literacy is promoted. Our students participate in the daily activity of DEAR – Drop Everything And Read – where lessons are stopped for twenty minutes, everyone takes out their book and reads in silence. It’s a lovely opportunity to take some time to relax and immerse ourselves in a different world, even if it’s just for a short period of time.
As it is World Book Day, I wasn’t able to dress up as a character from a book, although our English department did (I would probably have done Alice from Alice in Wonderland if I had possessed the time, money and confidence), but I thought I would share my ‘shelfies’ in celebration instead. These are just two shelves of about ten, but they give an overview of the sorts of things that I read regularly.
Do you want to join me? Share your #shelfie with me on Twitter and include my Twitter handle with the hashtag – it would be brilliant for me to see what sorts of things you are reading at the moment!
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