Recently I posted this photo of my bedroom bookshelf on Facebook, with the words “survival kit – books waiting to be read!” This is by no means the only books in my home. I have them on my bedside table, in the living room, in my office cum guest room, in the kitchen (although those are mainly cookery books), on the landing. Basically there are books everywhere. Books, books, books – why do I have so many?
Because they’re like old friends, and they make me happy. Or more specifically, reading makes me happy, not forgetting other sources such as the e-books I have on my e-reader, library books, and the ones friends recommend and let me borrow from time to time. It’s not necessarily about owning a physical book but about having access to what’s inside it – the story.
As an adolescent I would devour one title after the other (plus, ahem, Marvel magazines…) and quickly ended up reading everything on my own shelves at least twice. I would then spend hours at our local library (back when our small village still had one!), often sitting on the floor cocooned by the richness around me. I read my way through the children’s classics among others “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Railway Children”, then graduated to romances and authors such as Barbara Cartland, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart, and afterwards to grittier books by e.g. Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell and Raymond Chandler, as well as Jane Austen and the Brontës.
I like to think that my reading tastes are varied and eclectic, not allowing particular genres and styles to restrict me. The contents of my bookshelf is an illustration of this – here’s everything from crime [Dick Francis], romance [Fiona Harper], historical [Jenny Barden], epic drama [Madeleine Miller], the literary novel [Patrick Neate], to comedy [Danny Wallace], sci-fi [Connie Willis], young adult [Katherine Marsh], paranormal [Barbara Erskine], gothic [Daphne du Maurier] and fantasy [George R R Martin]. These authors are all ready to take me by the hand and guide me through their own unique and fantastical worlds.
And I can’t wait to join them!