Lose yourself in a good book

1 Dec

I didn’t really ‘get’ reading until the day when I finished the reading scheme at school (which I’ve just realised was THIRTY YEARS AGO.  How did I get to be so old?).  I can clearly remember sitting at my desk in 2nd Form, wading my way through the very dull ‘gold’ book and finally getting to the last page.  Stern-but-fair Miss Clark,  told me to go to the 3rd Form classroom and choose my next book.  Actually choose a book, I’d never done that before.  The book I selected from the small shelf was called ‘Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton.  I hadn’t heard of the author, but the cover looked exciting, with four children and a dog frolicking on the beach in the foreground with a ruined castle on an island in the distance.  By the end of the first page I was hooked and reading was no longer school work but a magical world of adventure and enchantment.  Like a Toys R Us advert, if Toys R Us advertised reading.

Before long, I was the proud owner of a library card and had worked my way through Ms Blyton’s oeuvre before moving onto Judy Blume, Arthur Ransome, E Nesbit and Noel Stratfield.  Reading was my entry into another world, entertainment during boring times, comfort when things weren’t going well and my place to hide.  It still is and although my tastes have matured somewhat, I often revisit my old friends.  I’ve yet to read anything as truly exciting as Swallows and Amazons.

When you are away from home reading almost becomes more important.  I can’t imagine a long plane journey without a good book to shut out the constant drone, stale smells and uncomfortable proximity of strangers.  There’s also nothing like a familiar book to comfort you in an uncomfortable situation and Jane Austen and PG Wodehouse have made quite a few dimly lit, manky hotel rooms, with alarming noises stage left, seem a little bit less grim and made it a little bit easier to get to sleep.

But what to do when you have a small backpack that’s already full of shoes and clothes and first aid kids?  I think an ebook may be the, rather expensive, answer.  I’m not yet sure whether I’m happy about swapping my beloved papery paperbacks with yet another piece of electronics but if it means I can carry a whole library of books with me, there’s no contest.  They’re still words, written by some of my favourite people, with the power to move, delight, distract, comfort and carry me away.


This post was inspired by Josie at Sleep is for the Weak who this week asked: What do you do or where do you go to escape the stresses of every-day life?


18 Responses to “Lose yourself in a good book”

  1. Aly 01/12/2009 at 11:22 pm #

    I loved the Famous five I had the whole series and the Secret Seven.Oh and The Faraway Tree..I loved all the adventure…. of course kids don’t get that nowadays.

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 02/12/2009 at 10:09 am #

      my seven year old daughter, LOVES the Famous Five when we read it to her, I think Enid Blyton’s stood up pretty well to the test of time

  2. Brit In Bosnia 02/12/2009 at 9:28 am #

    I know what you mean about a good book. you can usually find people on the road with books who are prepared to swop, so take some books that you don’t mind exchanging.

    As an aside, did you ever come across the website where you have to take a book and leave it somewhere and then someone else will pick it up and take it somewhere else and you can track the journey of your book around the world? Or something like that

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 02/12/2009 at 10:10 am #

      Great idea swapping books, that’s what I did on my last RTW trip, but it does mean that you sometimes end up with a duffer and nothing else to read. Which makes me slightly panicky…

  3. Tamsin 02/12/2009 at 11:11 am #

    I love reading and always have, it’s nice to have an escape from the cleaning, cooking and other chores of everyday life and reading is the perfect chance to do that, I can quite easily lose myself in a book and hope that my daughter continues to love books when shes older as she does now. It will definately be encouraged from me 🙂

  4. Kelly 02/12/2009 at 2:00 pm #

    You can’t beat a good book! I always have one with me, even if i am just jumping on the bus into town. I have that many books i could open my own library!

    I could never go to an electronic gadget thingy to read a book though. Part of my enjoyment of reading is feeling the book beneath my fingers, the smell of books too, especially old ones…

    Hmm, perhaps i should get out more? haha =/

  5. Vic 02/12/2009 at 5:43 pm #

    I’ve always got a book on me – if one won’t fit in my bag, the bag’s not worth having!
    I can’t wait until the boy’s old enough to read (or have read to him) some of the books I loved as an older child. I always remember my dad reading the hobbit to me and having to re-read it more than once.

  6. Stephen Isabirye 02/12/2009 at 6:14 pm #

    As for The Swallows and Amazons book by Arthur Ransome, it wasn’t until several years ago that I read it i.e. as a fully-grown adult. Enid Blyton may have been inspired by some aspects of that book in developing some of her memorable series such as The Famous Five, Secret Seven, etc. However, I found Enid Blyton’s books far more exciting than those of Arthur Ransome. Probably, she may have improved upon some of Ransome’s adventurous themes. Thus, it is my profound love of Enid Blyton and her books that I decided to publish a book in her honor and memory titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).

    Stephen Isabirye

  7. Josie @Sleep is for the Weak 02/12/2009 at 9:29 pm #

    I’m in two minds about the whole e-book thing. I LOVE the feel of a real book, the smell. But I agree, for travelling it’d be perfect.

    Swallows and Amazons was one of my FAVOURITE books when I was little – I have the whole set still and used to go to bed dreaming of coots 🙂

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/12/2009 at 2:30 pm #

      I have been giving the S&A books to my nephews and friends two little boys, for Christening pressies and one each Xmas and birthday. I still read them and love them.

  8. fun mum / glum mum 02/12/2009 at 9:35 pm #

    i loved the famous five! i always wanted to be george the tomboy and imagined myself running around with a super intelligent dog sorting out mysteries. i also got into the secret seven they solved mysteries and they were part of a secret club! i used to try and make my younger sisters play the secret three, though now i realise it doesnt quite have the same ring to it! hah x

  9. lifeslightlyused 03/12/2009 at 1:50 am #

    Brilliant. And very true. But yes, E-book, yet to be convinced…:)

  10. Dawn/LittleGreenFingers 03/12/2009 at 11:02 am #

    NOOOOO you can’t do an ebook! You know it’ll break, get lost, nicked, or dropped in the bath. I remember as an 18-year-old spening 6 months in India and managing to get hold of, and read my way through, all of Austen and Dickens works. When travelling, you always meet people who will happily exchange paperbacks with you – just take three along to get you started I reckon.

    Top books as a young kid – I’d say Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

    By the way, I’m slightly freaked out that we both, independently decided to write about Enid Blyton in a single week – how weird is that?

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/12/2009 at 2:28 pm #

      I did the same when I did my RTW trip aged 19, but with five of us, a just a few books each really adds up. I am worried about the breakability of the ebook, and also about missing the feeling of holding a book, but the advantage is the sheer number of books available, including children’s ones…

  11. Kelly 03/12/2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Does anyone remember The Hardy Boys? I think i’m the only girl that loved them! I so fell in love with 17 year old Joe Hardy. I might just have to dig out my antique collection from under the bed and reread them, just because i can haha.

    I grew up reading Point Horror books. I could never get into Enid Blyton =/

    • itsasmallworldafterallfamily 03/12/2009 at 2:26 pm #

      The Hardy Boys weren’t published in this country when I was growing up (you can buy them and Nancy Drew now), but I remember reading them on trips to visit relatives in America. I loved them too!

  12. Leighann Garber 03/12/2009 at 10:42 pm #

    I can’t really enjoy e-books. I don’t have a Kindle, but I would just miss the feel, the smell, the overall ambiance of books. I have carried several books all over the world with me, including The River Why and The Egg and I. My hubby thinks I’m crazy, but I must have books about at all times.

    I’m very lucky here in France to have a British lady nearby who has similar tastes in books and loans freely. 🙂 I miss libraries full of English – language books. Just wrote a blog post about that.

  13. drawingdad 04/12/2009 at 12:54 am #

    That’s a good point about e-books. To me, there’s currently no contest – paper books all the way. But then again, I used to feel the same way about iPods vs CDs…

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