What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousand’s of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic – Carl Sagan
Books were a big part of my childhood, they were always around. I was brought up by my grandparents who were both readers, my grandmother with her romance novels and my grandfather with his love of westerns. However, for them my reading could sometimes be a problem, I could forget to do almost anything else, and devour books at a great rate, even occasionally running out of material. I have been known to read one of my grandfather’s books if nothing else could be found ( i don’t much like westerns!).
I would read all day to the worry of my grandmother who at one point decided I would damage my eyesight with so much reading and banned me from reading more than a chapter a day. ( I had a habit of being so engrossed in a novel I would forget to switch on the lights and would end up struggling in poor light). This ban lasted months ….
Needless to say I sneaked reading in after I had gone to bed and I don’t think she ever found out! My home was a treasure trove of books, they were in every cupboard and draw I could find, over flowing shelves and wardrobes, all jumbled together with no real organisation. I would find Lolita next to Little Women, E.M Hull’s The Sheik written in 1926) alongside a book on psychology.
I went through a phase of being a pain in the ass and on a few occasions threatened to leave home ( I think I was 10 at the time) my grandfather calmly told me to pack what i needed and he would take my to my Mom’s house. After some time I walked into the liven room with a bag, my grandmother on checking to make sure I had packed what I would need, found the following :- a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a bag over flowing with books ( even then I had my priorities right!). Needless to say, I was won over with chocolate cake and Coke and stayed.
I was lucky that I had a fantastic teacher around the age of 9, who let me explore books way beyond my age range, he even took the trouble to go to my local library and ask permission for me to be able to move out of the limits of the children’s section as I had out grown it by this time. I will be forever grateful to Mr Jarvis for allowing me to explore a world of history, religion and philosophy I would otherwise have had to wait several years for.
My reading habits work pretty much the way my study of subjects work, I get a fixation on one particular subject and read up on it till I have exhausted my curiosity. Fiction is the same for me but I go by authors, I remember going through the whole catalogue of Charles Dickens, The Bronte Sister’s, Jane Austen, John Steinbeck( still my favourite author) , Ernest Hemingway, Daphne Du Maurier, Fitzgerald…. the list goes on and on.
I also love plays and Shakespeare’s ” Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ will always be treasured gems. I also love Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’
However , the Greek Tragedies pull me in every time – Euripede’s ‘Medea’ wow – quit yawning, just try it and be amazed!
Now your wondering is this Deana? Something is missing, no talk of religion. Well, that’s right. Of course, you understand I have always spoken out on my views on religion, I broke my debating teeth on my Aunt and on my Religious Education tutor ( I studied Religious Education for 7 years to A Level). I was interested in History and Mythology so was a natural interest for me. I never imagined people took the religious texts seriously, I never had, they were somewhat of a curiosity.
However, I never picked up a book on atheism until i was in my thirties. It never occurred to me… as far as I was aware I was born an atheist and that was that, did I need to read about it? Wow. When I did a world opened up to me, other free minded, free thinking human beings who were not afraid to speak their minds. The world of Dawkins, Sagan, Dennett and Hitchens, I was enthralled and I wish I had read them sooner!
In conclusion my passion for books has always been extreme, I see them as a box of chocolates with many centres, I just browse and voila. I have slowed down alas due to the pleasures of the social media and internet… It would be a travesty if because of the internet people stopped reading books
Please, please, please, never forget to spend some time curled up with a good book! Knowledge is power and never a waste, and the treasures within the pages of a wonderful novel take you to places and worlds you could never dream of.
Right…. now where the hell did I put Schama’s History of Britain
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