Friday 5 July 2019

Books that remind me of a certain place and time

I've been a reader throughout my life, and while I've read many many books over the years there are some that will always remind me of where I was and what I was doing  at the time that I read them. 

The first books that I can really remember reading over and over were my Enid Blyton books. I have a very vivid memory of reading one just after I had been to the opticans and prescribed my first pair of glasses, around age 7. They had used the eye drops and the words on the page were all blurred and yellow. I was most upset after being diagnosed as short sighted because so many of Enid Blyton's adventurous characters were described as having sharp eyes, and it made me feel like I was faulty!

When we used to go on camping holidays my Mum would always collect together a box of books for us from the library books sale and charity shops. It's one of my favourite holiday memories! It was this box that introduced me to A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, which I vividly remember reading in the tent. It was the first book that I was really emotionally drawn to, and I remember it making me cry.

As I got older I moved on to the adult books from the holiday box, and I remember reading A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle while we were staying in the area. I'm not sure why this one appealed to me so much as a child as it was hardly relevant to my own life, but I remember really enjoying it!

As a teenager I impressed my teacher by reading Wuthering Heights, and she gave me a photocopied family tree which I stuck inside. It reminds me of sitting at an uncomfortable desk at school, I think one of our English classes was devoted to individual reading which I loved.

Woman reading outside
Photo credit Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

A later holiday introduced me to Bill Bryson and Notes from a Small Island. I always read through my own books too quickly and so started reading the ones that my parents had brought along, and in this instance it led to the discovery of one of my favourite authors!

I didn't read much for pleasure at university as I had so much study related reading to do, in particular lots of German books which took me ages to plough through. But in my final year I discovered the Harry Potter books. The first four had been published by that point, and I bought them all and read them one after the other in my freezing attic room. I can still remember seeing them piled up on my scruffy bedside table!

I moved down to Worthing after university, and that was when I started to go back to the library as it was a nice walk from our flat. I returned to reading some of my childhood favourites like the Little House on the Prairie series, and I also discovered a shelf of books on Egyptian conspiracy theories which fascinated me even though I couldn't bring myself to believe them!

After we were married we went on a round the world trip for our honeymoon. We were limited for suitcase space so I only took one book, and I chose Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy as it was a nice thick volume with small print. I have a vivid memory of reading it while spending the night in a shack in the rainforest with frogs chirping all around. I even managed to pace myself perfectly so that it lasted the whole trip!

Reading took a bit of a back seat once again when the babies arrived, and it became all about the books that I read to the children. The first book that I read with Harry was called Faces, a soft book with just a few pages featuring line drawings of faces and black and white patterns. From just a few weeks old he loved this book, he would gaze at the pictures for whole minutes at a time.

Mia never had the same interest in books as a baby, but I remember receiving a copy of Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson to review and making the mistake of not reading it first before reading it aloud.  It's such a beautiful book and still makes me want to cry when I read it to them. This is a book that will definitely always remind me of when my babies were little!

Which books will always transport you back to a particular time and place in your life?

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