Boy how I have missed it! For three long years even the thought of reading for fun was greeted with ‘what? Are you kidding?’ by both me and the people I spent most of my time with. But now I can. Except I haven’t been because work and life and every other distraction. Until now.
I have had four glorious days off work for no reason other than the fact I’ve been working a lot of overtime and it’s been peak season at the railway. So I treated myself on these golden days and downloaded some new titles and had the time of my life doing nothing but lying on the sofa devouring titles. And I’m going to share them with you now.
In a recent issue of Writers’ Forum (my most favourite magazine in all the world) there was mention of a new online book show all about…well, books. It’s broadcast as live and also is on YouTube so I thought I would pop on over and have a look. I’m a little late to the party – it was filmed in February – but I’m really glad I had a look. It’s only half an hour long and really was very enjoyable.
This month we had the joy of World Book Day – sadly a day not overly celebrated in university land unless it ties into some kind of Student Union event (which it did, yesterday – World Book Day fancy dress disco). It was always a highlight for me as a child for several reasons.
1) We almost always had a fancy dress day at school that said ‘pah’ to the curriculum and instead involved readings, creative writing exercises and the odd film clip or two.
2) Book tokens – being given a token to exchange for a brand new book!
3) I could show off my knowledge of literature and talk about books FOR A WHOLE DAY.
Sadly it means slightly less for me now. As a Drama and Creative Writing student it’s a day that should be embraced and celebrated. Sadly, the curriculum and looming deadlines meant that it passed unnoticed by many of us. So here I am taking the opportunity to talk about the 50 Books That Will Change Your Life (or at least some of them) as chosen by both young people and adults and compiled by World Book Day.
When I was a child I was an avid reader. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had the added bonus of a brother who also read – not as much as me, but thankfully completely different books. So when, after Christmas, I had finished all of my Famous Five adventures, I would turn to his Secret Seven. Bu we both fought tooth and nail for the Roald Dahl’s and Goosebumps. We had our own books, and then there was a little slice of ambiguity that we both loved.
These days, with the likes of Harry Potter and Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, is there such a thing as gendered fiction? Boys and girls are reading the same books with no second thoughts. Equality and gender expectations have changed from ten years ago. Yet books such as The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s female equivalent still sell like hot cakes.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As mentioned, I love books. I will read almost anything you put in front of me. At twenty-six I will still happily browse the teenage section for a good, shorter read. And I’m not the only one – the success of The Hunger Games trilogy has proved that. Maybe we don’t even have the age barriers there once were.
I think it’s a great thing that children (and adults) are free to read whatever they choose now. There will always be the ‘girlie’ books and the ‘boy’ books for the very young. I can’t see an eight year-old boy picking up an Animal Ark book voluntarily, nor will many girls choose Captain Underpants as their first choice. That’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes you need to fit the stereotype now and again. As long as they have the freedom to choose, and as long as there are those transcendental series such as Narnia and Harry Potter to bring them together, I say let them read what they like.
Final year of university is definitely upon me. The late nights have begun, the panic has set in and, true to student style, rather than confront my workload I am avoiding it. With Harry Potter.
Like most people my age, Potter was a massive part of growing up. With each new step at school I was accompanied with Harry’s steps into the wizarding world. I had a new head teacher, he had a new defence against the dark arts teacher. I got a new pet hamster, Hermione treated herself to a cat. I was faced with my GCSEs, Harry was cramming for his OWLs. And so my life continued. And seemed dull in comparison.
As I child I read avidly, anything I could get my hands on. I particularly loved anything my older brothers read – what younger sibling doesn’t emulate the older ones in an attempt to be accepted? For me this included Goosebumps, Roald Dahl and (possibly my favourite at the time) Tintin. While the others were fun, Tintin has the added joy of pictures! Here was a wonderful story that, instead of giving you lengthy descriptions of location or character appearance showed you in full colour. They were big books so you really felt like you had achieved something, while still having the right amount of words that you could finish in a day or two. Continue reading