Before I begin I must introduce you to someone very special in my life. This is Maci-Rose Scarlett, my beautiful granddaughter who made her appearance in the world earlier this month. She is obvioulsy the most beautiful, adorable baby in the whole wide world and it was most definitely love at first sight ! At the moment I’m on cuddle duty, but I can’t wait to get really stuck into my role as a doting nana as she grows and becomes inquisitive of the world around her. A year ago I would have been a little horrified at the thought of having a grandchild. Me a grandparent? At the age of 55? Surely that’s too young! But of course it isn’t and there are plenty of grandmothers my age and younger. But after the initial shock discovering that Maci was on her way, all silly thoughts went out of the window and I began to get excited about her arrival and playing an important part in her life, and to be there for support and advice for her lovely mummy and daddy when they need it.
So, now on to the focus of this post…books! In 10 days I’m off to my first ever book group meeting to discuss The Island by Victoria Hislop. The fact that I haven’t even started reading it is beginning to cause a niggle of panic. You see, I haven’t finished the book that I’m currently reading, and I still have 200 pages of that to read, so every available spare minute is taken with speed reading to try and finish it, so that I can super speed read our group book and not turn up at the meeting hoping that relying on reviews on Amazon will save me from the humiliation of admitting I haven’t a clue what the book was about!
I love reading but apart from holidays, when I can get through a whole stack of books in a week, I take forever to finish a book. I blame social media for my failure to devote more time for enjoying a good book. The lure of scrolling through Facebook posts and Twitter tweets is too much of a pull at times and I’m embarrassed to say that my bedtime reading often gets replaced by a final session on the iPad whilst tucked up under my duvet.
In one of my monthly magazines there is a regular column called My Life in Books and it got me thinking about the books I have read since I was a child and what influenced my choices. Am I still reading the same style of writing as I did in my twenties?
As a child I loved nothing more than a trip to Bristol Central Library with my dad on Saturday morning. Whilst he went off to change his books and choose new ones I was left to enjoy the shelves of wonderful volumes of books in the children’s department. Fortunately my dad was happy to browse for ages which gave me plenty of time to lose myself in in the pages of amazing adventure stories. I remember loving all of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books, The Silver Sword and Emil and The Detectives. Fabulous stories.
During my secondary school years I used to skip my Friday after school ballet lessons and hit the local library instead. By now I was reading John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and The Midwitch Cookoos. For some long forgotten reason, I also had a thing about reading non fiction books on witchcraft. As much as I enjoyed reading out of school, I can’t say the same for the English lesson book choices. Having to read and analyze literature did nothing for me except make me yawn. One day however we were given Wuthering Heights to read and I was instantly hooked and couldn’t put it down. I loved every word, every page. It was to me the most wonderful story ever. I never returned my copy and it still sits on my book shelf today.
At 18 I left home to train as a nurse in London. My first serious boyfriend there was a Cambridge graduate who’s circle of friends were to me very sophisticated. They had dinner parties, listened to classical music and discussed politics and culture. Not what was the latest hot thing to buy at Top Shop gossip which was what I was more used to! I started to read a lot of Edna O’Brien, Fay Weldon, Leon Uris, Thomas Hardy and Emile Zola and many others. My bookcase filled up with books with orange spines. If it wasn’t a Penguin book it wasn’t worth reading!
After having children my taste in reading changed and I bacame less of a book snob. For a tired mum with young children I opted for lighter, more girlie books. The era of chick lit arrived and to be honest I’m still pretty much drawn to that genre, but I also enjoy a good crime novel now and again. If I look at my bookcase now I see novels by Adele Parks, Elizabeth Noble, Anita Shreve, Jenny Colgan and Rachel Hore. I often choose books set in Cornwall or France or if there is a baking theme going on. I have to admit that I would like to try something a bit meatier than my current choices. But I’m not sure if I can handle a Booker Prize novel just yet, but hey, never say never!