Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Thanks for the memories - Karen Bush

Books do so many jobs - they educate, entertain, inspire, or offer you a place to escape to when you need it.  They can also be incredibly evocative: pick any title I've read, and it summons up in my mind's eye the time and place when I first read it:



The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: I'm behind the sofa in my great uncle's house in Belfast. It's dim and dusty there, but it's the only private place I can find to read in, where no-one can see me sobbing over Aslan's death.



My Friend Flicka: In my bunk bed, reading (after I was supposed to be asleep) by the dim light filtering in through the glass panel over the top of the bedroom door.



The Hobbit: Sprawled on my stomach on the dining room floor of my grandparents house on a blisteringly hot summer day, and trying to ignore the constant interruptions asking if I wouldn't rather go outside to play. (No! Of course not! Bilbo's trying to beat Gollum at riddles. Go away!)

The Dark is Rising: In bed and fully dressed because it is the warmest place to be - my unheated rented bedroom is so cold in the depths of a snowy winter that there is ice on the inside of the windows.





The White Dragon: It's 3am in the morning, in my stable-converted-into-a-bedroom at the riding school I work at, and I have to get up in four hours time to muck out, but I'm at a crucial point so I really can't turn out the light just yet ...






A Prayer for Owen Meany: Curled up on the sofa, three quarters of the way through and finding it impossible to put down, even though I have a bucket load of work to get done. And as for getting dinner ready, well, maybe my partner won't mind a takeaway. Again.






As well as adventure and information, each book gives me a link with my past, better than photographs even, as they bring back such vividly detailed memories of scents, sounds and feelings as well as of time and place.

Bookmarks it seems, aren't just devices used to keep your place in your current reading matter: they can literally be the books themselves, marking the pages of your life. And of course, this applies just as much to when writing a book as reading it ... 

What are your abiding book memories?


Every short story tells a story ... I remember the sweat and the tears which went into each and every one of the tales in The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories ... available HERE









8 comments:

CallyPhillips said...

Interesting post, many happy memories.
I posted today on something of a similar subject
http://wp.me/sTeqE-1037
re impact fellow AE author Julia Jones has had on me. Happy Birthday Julia.

Bill Kirton said...

So true, madwippitt. You set me thinking of the equivalent books in my case and the more I thought about it, the more books there were and I started making a distinction between books that moved me in some way or were just a great pleasure to read and books that actually changed the way I thought. And some of the latter were books about books, when a reviewer or critic, for example, suddenly opened up a familiar text and showed new angles on it, hinted at meanings I'd never noticed. As a student, I was suddenly moved into a different gear by G. Wilson Knight's books about Shakespeare and, much later, even after giving lecture courses, seminars and tutorials on Flaubert, Jonathan Culler's 'Uses of Uncertainty' showed me lots I'd never noticed. So many books, so little time.

Chris Longmuir said...

Ah, happy memories. My main one was under the covers with a torch which would be flicked off at the sound of approaching footsteps. I read loads of books that way.

Lynne Garner said...

I have the most awful memory. I couldn't tell you where I was when I read a book but I know I really enjoyed The Famous Five followed by The Secret Seven then I moved onto the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

Kathleen Jones said...

Mine was 'The Princess and Curdie' by George Macdonald - a wonderful 19th century fairy tale, with a moral I wasn't aware of at that early age. I always wanted, like Curdie, to have the ability to tell what kind of animals people really were by touching their hands. The other book, which I still re-read, was Comet in Moominland by Tove Janssen. Lovely!

madwippitt said...

I also find one of the reasons I find it so hard to dispose of books - even though I'm unlikely to want to read Snowy the Little White Horse ever again, it holds huge associative memories! Like Curdie, Kathleen - we used to fight over who got to read this one, which along with the Mary Poppins books was a favourite in our primary school classroom bookcase!

Lydia Bennet said...

Lovely nostalgic post!I was a fanatical, very fast reader and I too 'ruined my eyesight' by reading under the covers when supposed to be asleep. I read all the usual Blyton adventures, and loved Jane Shaw's Susan books. And of course the Jennings books which were hilarious. My parents were keen on books but were hard up when I was small so I had to read my books over and over again, which I still do! I missed out on classic children's books like Swallows and Amazons, Winnie the Pooh, Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder series, but caught up with them as an adult and shared them with my children.

madwippitt said...

Ah, that takes me back too, Lydia - Jennings books! I loved them too!