This is the first time that I have taken part in the ‘new’ Food For Thought meme. This week’s question asks “Tell us about that ONE BOOK that you have read loads of times. The book you could not do without in your bookcase. Kinky or not”.
I did write a few years ago about my love of books for Wicked Wednesday, and I have copied that post into this one as it is relevant, but I have added a section specifically for the question posed for F4TF.
One of my great loves in life is books, and my earliest memories are of me, in my own little world, with a book. As soon as I learned to read there was no stopping me; a trip to the local library with my mum and sister was my greatest treat. I devoured books at speed: desperate to get to the end, yet feeling somewhat sad when that particular journey was over – nothing has changed and I still get a hint of sadness when I finish a book.
I can still picture the hallowed hall of the children’s library; the smell of the polished parquet floor and the dusty aroma of thousands of books. But what I vividly remember above anything else is the silence. The deathly hush that hung over the rows of bookshelves. My sister and I knew that we were not to utter a sound; a glare from mum was enough to scare us into silence. The only sounds that could be heard were the hushed tones of the austere librarians, the clicking of heels on the parquet floor, the rhythmic clunk of the date stamp, and the thud of the cover as the stamped book was closed ready for the borrower to take away to read. Then, people really did respect that libraries should be silent places, unlike today.
I could never choose books quickly; I had to examine the contents of each shelf carefully and often several times. I would end up with at least half a dozen books and then spend ages trying to decide which three to take home. Nowadays, the entitlement is more generous, but, for me, a trip to a library has never been a short visit. I am fortunate now that I have a great library a short walk from my home.
At home, I have several shelves filled with books of all kinds, including modern fiction, classics, children’s books, text books, reference books of diverse kinds and a variety of cookery books. I enjoy books by a wide range of authors, but a couple of particular favourites are Peter James, a British crime writer and Alexander McCall-Smith, a Scottish writer whose books are quite magical. I always find that reading and books are topics that can be relied on to get conversations flowing in most situations and, of course, a love of reading shows intelligence. And intelligence is sexy!
My love affair with books took an unexpected twist a few years ago when I developed a serious eye condition, which required a number of operations. I was left unable to see well enough to read comfortably. But, I did the next best thing and downloaded several audio books to save my sanity during the long periods of time spent convalescing and desperately waiting for my sight to improve. One of the most captivating of these was ‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared. What made the audio version so amusing and memorable for me is that the book is set in Sweden with Swedish characters, but the narrator is British and reads the parts of the various characters in different British regional accents.
As soon as I got some useful sight back, I borrowed some large-print books from the local library; I was so grateful to be able to actually read a proper book again. I also downloaded some books to read on my IPad; the facility to be able to increase the text size was invaluable. But, I found I didn’t get as much pleasure from reading in this way as from a normal book. It’s more for convenience; holding a normal book is definitely more enjoyable. Thankfully, I can now see well enough to read normal print books again. But, I no longer read as much as I did. I used to read a couple of books a week. Now, it’s more like one book a month. The discovery of dark Twitter has had a lot to do with that, along with discovering other new interests…
Interestingly, I sorted out a long-forgotten drawer recently, and found this book – a purchase from around nine years ago – long before I had even heard of Twitter. But I have always had an enquiring mind and obviously liked to vary my reading material, even then…
I must admit I don’t often return to the same book over and over again, mainly because I always have a list of new books I want to read. One book that I own which has been read a few times is Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I found this a haunting and mesmerising book predominantly because of the character of Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper. I wouldn’t call this my ‘go to’ book, though.
The spare time I have available to read has reduced considerably over the last year or so, but I have rediscovered the joy of audiobooks, which provide more opportunities for ‘reading’ by using the time when I am out and about walking and when I am preparing meals or eating. This way, I get to do two things at once. I did buy a number of audiobooks a good few years when I had some surgery and could not do much for a few weeks after. Two of those that I bought were collections of short stories for adults by Roald Dahl: ‘Kiss Kiss’ and ‘Someone Like You’. They were all written in the 1940s and 1950s so are beautifully set in those eras and are wonderfully dark and macabre tales with twists in their plots. Many audiobooks are narrated by well-known actors and the narration of different characters and accents adds so much to the enjoyment. These two Roald Dahl audiobooks have been listened to numerous times, as each story is around 45 minutes so they are perfect for listening to while in the bath or before bed. I think I have to say that these two books are my ‘most read’, and I definitely recommend them!
I now borrow audiobooks through my local library service which uses the Borrowbox app. Although I still do love proper books, I love the convenience that Borrowbox provides and, in addition to having an audiobook on the go, I often have an e-book at the same time to read on my iPad. I do also buy e-books for my Kindle if they are not available in audiobook or e-book form through the library. I personally find that reading on an-e-reader is much quicker than a normal print book. I’ve got through more audiobooks and e-books in the last six months than print books over the last couple of years. I’m happy to continue like this as my list of books to read gets longer all the time!