Books have always been omnipresent in my life. For as long as I can remember books have played their part in the highs and lows and rhythm of my everyday life.
Probably my earliest book related memories are of my mum patiently reading and re-reading and re-reading Henny Penny, Bunny Blue and The Animals’ Train Ride (the latter two I still have and read and re-read and re-read to my own children). My first memories of the local library, apart from the rubbery smell of the stairwell that led up to the children’s section, are of borrowing Joan Drake’s Mr Grimpwinkle books and of my mum reading them to me at bedtime.
Bedtime story time was the highlight of many a night, long after I was old enough to read the books to myself. It was mother/daughter time. Even if I was reading a book of my own, we always had a book set aside for bedtime story….sigh…we never did finish Anne of Green Gables circa October 1979. (We moved house and bedtime story time fizzled out)
Reading and writing began to co-exist in my world as soon as I was old enough to construct a sentence. Countless notebooks pens and pencils were purchased for me to scribble in.
I was always keen to read books aimed at the age group just above my own. I’m probably showing my age here but I remember a colour coding on I believe it was Armada published books, where you graduated from a red to a green boat on the corner of the cover to indicate the intended age range. I was desperate to read the green ones! Countless times my mum would say “That’s a bit too old for you” as we stood either in Rae’s, the local bookshop or John Menzies debating which book I would be allowed to buy. Not to be thwarted by this age discrimination, I bought myself my first proper pocket dictionary when I was eight years old. It had a red tartan cover and I bought it in the village shop in Tarbert, Harris when we went to visit family.
If there were “big” words in the book, I would look them up and learn to read them, understand them and spell them!
Books have also been my friends during the lows in life. When bullying in primary school was at its worst, I would read alone in a quiet corner at intervals and lunchtimes. Occasionally this triggered further bullying as my peers made smart remarks about my choice of reading material. One particular incident has lived with me down the years. It was sparked by me standing reading My Friend Flicka (yes, I went through the obligatory pony phase too). Crude remarks were made about an “alternative” version of the title. The spacing of the lettering on the front cover was a bit tight and said eleven year old obviously thought it was cool to twist it into a “sweary” word and taunt me incessantly. I took it on the chin during the morning interval but when it continued later the same day (I seem to recall it was during the short afternoon interval. I remember it was raining.) I snapped. One of the few occasions in my life when I have resorted to physical violence. As the girl continued to get in my face, I slapped hers. My Friend Flicka has been a tainted tale ever since.
In high school, as the bullying continued, I lost myself in stories and worlds I wrote about. Curled up in a quiet corner, I filled reporter notebook after reported notebook for over three years. I still have them all. There’s a lot of them! Arguably they amount to the first “book” I ever wrote – a family saga following three generations of women. Bittersweet memories of my teenage years.
Book buying has changed dramatically over the years. Rae’s bookshop is long gone. It’s successor, Book Point, is also long gone. The second-hand bookshop, Westwords, a real Aladdin’s cave, is also a fading memory. John Menzies, my other local source of literature and writing supplies evolved and shrank into WH Smith before finally disappearing from the local town centre a couple of years ago. Amazon became my primary source for book shopping.
Then The Big Green Gummi Bear bought me my first Kindle and the world changed again.
There was a new choice in front of me – e-book or paperback book- EEK!!! To be honest, its swayed me towards e-books but I always have a “real” book on the go too (usually a biography or autobiography type thing.) You can’t beat turning pages over – sorry!
Choosing a book to read has become a nightmare – so many to choose from! My previous book selection method has been destroyed! I always chose books by their front cover first and then read the back cover to find out what the book was about. Amazon shopping makes this more of a challenge. Do I go for the photo of the cover? Do I go for synopsis? Do I go for reviews? Do I go for the number of twinkly stars? Decisions…decisions…decisions….
Then I wrote and published my book babies and the world of books took a whole new turn!
From being the tiny little girl begging for her mum to read Henny Penny, Bunny Blue and The Animals Train Ride, I’ve become the girl with her name on the cover. EEKKKK!!!!
Today, I received Amazon reviews of my first two book babies that really made me feel quite emotional. Both of them are five stars (thank you!) and both are quite lengthy and straight from the heart (thank you!).
Seeing my three book babies twinkling away on Amazon’s website and seeing the three “real” copies of them on my bookshelf is a million miles from the moment I sat down on my doorstep with my new notepad and pen from WH Smith and began to write a story. It’s taken a long while but I think it’s finally sunk in that I am an author.
Books are and always have been and always will be at the heart of my world.
photos of the Silver Lake series and the messy bookshelf are the author’s own
(other images sourced via Google – credits to the owners)