Are you reading more during lockdown? Many of us now who aren’t keyworkers, working from home or looking after children during the current crisis have hours to fill when apart from taking their daily exercise or shopping for food are stuck indoors wondering how to keep occupied. Our houses are getting a thorough Spring clean and our cupboards and shelves have never been so organised. Those with gardens are pruning, weeding, grass cutting and planting, that’s if they’ve been able to get their hands on any plants
Maybe you are busy crafting, knitting, sewing, being arty. Started that project you’ve always been meaning to do or complete a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Like me you might be writing that book you’ve always said you’d start but never found time to do so.
I bet though, you’ve all managed to read a book or two or many more especially if you have access to a garden and have been able to read whilst sitting in the sunshine.
I’m currently on book four and loving the chance to read without feeling that I should be doing something else. There isn’t much else for me to do. Well, there is that oven crying out to be cleaned but I have to be in the right mind frame to do that and it so isn’t!
I’ve been sorting out my bookshelves today and it got me thinking about what five books would I choose that have been important in my own personal reading journey.
These are the books that I picked out. Some I still have. Others have been lost or I never owned in the first place!
From an early age I adored ballet dancing. I had lessons from around four years old when I remember wearing a white tunic and a pink ballet cardigan. If I wasn’t dancing at lessons then I would be dancing to my mum’s classical records in our tiny living room. I lived and breathed ballet. I knew all the classical pieces and the names of ballarinas and principal male dancers. I loved the tutus my mum made for me to wear at performances. All the sequins were hand sewn. It must have taken her ages. I loved dressing up in my prettiest dresses and going to the Bristol Hippodrome to watch the likes od Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and Coppelia. Hard to believe now but I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School. Obviously, I didn’t get in!
My first book then is this little Ladybird book. It wasn’t the only ballet book that I had as a child but it was special because it was given to me as a school prize. It’s a little book that reminds me that I have a creative side. I’m still known to dance in my kitchen but not in a tutu you’ll be pleased to hear!
Time alone with my dad was precious to me as a child. He didn’t spend much time with me and my sister as he would often spend his evenings after work pottering in the shed. I grew up during a time when there were clearly defined roles in a marriage. The man worked to put food on the table and a roof over our heads and the wife looked after the children and home. We loved our dad dearly but didn’t have much time with him apart from on holiday.
It was a treat then to get to go to Bristol Central Library with my dad. He would go and look for his books and I would be left to explore the shelves filled with wonderful books in the children’s section. I remember the smell of the books and of furniture polish. It was a wonderful place to escape from reality and go for adventures in magical places.
As a teenager I would skip my ballet lessons and go to the local library in Staple Hill instead. The books I remember reading whilst I should have been practicing plies and arabesques was John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and The Midwhich Cuckoos. It was these books that turned me into a bit of a rebel. Not being where I should have been !
As much as I enjoyed reading at home. I did not feel the same about the books we had to read in English literature at school. I couldn’t be doing with having to discuss what, why and how. I especially didn’t like having to put my thoughts into the written word. I was pretty useless at it and it’s no wonder that I failed my O level in the subject. There was one book though that had me captivated and reading well into the night. That book was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It wasn’t easy to read but I absolutely loved it and finished it way before I need to which amazed my English teacher who thought I was a lost cause. Sadly if she had asked me any questions about it I would probably have shrugged and looked blank. To this day I can’t really explain why I enjoyed it so much. No doubt I’d still fail an English Lit exam if I were to take one! Wuthering Heights is the book that introduced me to literature. It also defines me as someone who is hopeless at putting thoughts down as words on paper!
When I left home to train as a nurse I went through a phase of buying Penguin books with an orange spine. Some I still have today. I especially enjoyed Edna O’Brian and Faye Weldon books. For a short while I turned into a bit of a book snob. No orange spine? Then it had no place on my book shelf! The book though that had a special meaning of that time was The Magus by John Fowles as it was set on the small Greek Island of Spetses where I spent a week with my boyfriend at the time whilst on a back packing holiday. Our days there were spent cycling to small coves, eating moussaka in out of the way tavernas and reading whilst sunbathing. It was a magical time. The book reminds me that I love to travel and discover new places.
Choosing my last book was really difficult as there have been so many that I’ve enjoyed but I finally opted for All the Light we cannot See by Anthony Doerr as it was the first book that I could manage to read after having pneumonia. You would think that spending weeks in hospital would mean that I had plenty of time to read but when you’re poorly you discover that you can just about focus on a magazine. No way could I manage a book. I missed reading and once I was able to concentrate on reading and not fall asleep after a few lines I just read and read. This one was a real corker. Terribly sad in parts and beautifully written. I just loved it! It will always be remembered as my recovery book!
Well that’s my five,okay so it’s six if you include the second John Wyndham book that managed to creep in. What would your five books be that define you!