There were two things I looked forward to about being six. One was joining Young Adventurers on a Tuesday evening at the local church, the other was joining the library. Young Adventurers turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, but the library was a source of endless delight. It was housed in an old school building which was falling to bits (as I found out when Mrs Forryan let me through to the back to use the loo, and I had to step over holes in the floor), and it didn’t take me long to get through the complete selection of children’s books. I started on the adults’ books then, and I haven’t stopped reading since.
I read in bed, at the kitchen table and on the sofa. I read indoors and outdoors. I read on the bus, the train, walking along the street, whilst cooking the dinner. Whilst doing anything to be honest. I read for relaxation and escape, I read for stimulation and new ideas, to experience new worlds and to learn about the one I’m in. I read to find out about people, how we think, how we all have a different experience of life.
Libraries are like rows and rows of tiny, bookspine-shaped doors that each lead to another place, where things might be more (or sometimes less) colourful, scary, exciting and romantic than everyday life. We can visit these worlds, and although we can’t stay in them (and mostly wouldn’t want to) we can bring things back from each one to enrich our daily lives.
I’ve been in a book group for nearly twenty years now. The first one was in Woodbridge in Suffolk, and I think it’s still going. When I moved to Hebden Bridge I set up the 646 Book Club with a couple of friends, and we’re going strong twelve years later. It’s a wonderful thing to discuss a book with a group of friends over a glass of wine. We rarely agree of course. But that’s the other wonderful thing about reading – it’s only half the author’s creation . The other half is the readers’ imagination, so for every book written there are hundreds and thousands of versions, one in the mind of each reader. How amazing is that! You can find out about what I’ve been reading recently in The Reading Corner.