I’m not sure there’s ever been a time in my life which hasn’t been coloured by books. I love writing and to have the opportunity to do it full-time is beyond amazing but, first and foremost, I’m a reader. Urban Fantasy is naturally a huge love but I’ll read almost any genre. Right now I’m working my way through the Booker longlist, punctuating it occasionally with the odd UF joy or crime thriller.
When I was a kid, I was somewhat of a prodigy as far as reading went. Not in Maths (I never actually properly learnt my times tables – I think I found them too mundane to bother with) or Science or History, although one school I went to between the ages of 8 and 10 did teach Latin and I discovered a remarkable affinity for it (I’m not sure dead languages count though). I used to lie awake at night, terrified that I might die before I got to the end of my book. How would I ever cope if I didn’t find out what happened because I was in the ground?
I don’t recall ever being taught how to read. It was just something I always seem to remember doing, as if I emerged from the womb with the desire to pick up a good novel. I have distant recollections of being irritated at being taught to read in school when I already knew how and I have an incredibly vivid memory of the first time I was given a book which didn’t include pictures (Enid Blyton. I was her biggest fan. Fortunately all the explicit and implicit racism passed me by). I read Lord of The Rings when I was eight, skipping out all the ‘boring’ parts which didn’t include Frodo or Sam. I re-read it when I was nine, adding in Pippin and Merry’s chapters. I finally read every section when I was ten then bumbled along to a new school where the class were reading The Hobbit. I was bitterly disappointed.
As a teenager, I think I had a pretty healthy social life and yet I still went to the library two or three times every week. Oh, the joy when I was finally allowed to select books from the adult floor! I became a massive of fan of Jeffrey Archer and Michael Crichton and Stephen King. Some books I loved so much that I read and re-read them until I could almost recite them word for word. There was one book, the name of which is lost to me now, which was a trashy but hugely fun romance about a young woman kidnapped and taken to a sheik’s harem. It was a charity shop buy so there were no problems about reading it as often as I wished. Imagine my shock when I borrowed a book with a plot about politics in the Middle East where a side story involved a politician’s daughter being kidnapped for a harem and there were two full pages describing her ‘preparation’ for her deflowering which I knew I’d read somewhere before. Two minutes of investigation revealed exactly where they’d come from. The heavy political tome had plagiarised directly from the light-hearted romance. To this day, I regret that I didn’t do anything about it.
Even in this day and age, libraries are amazing places. In my early twenties, when I moved down to England and didn’t yet have a permanent address and so couldn’t join the local library, I spent whole afternoons scouring charity shops for things to read. Mills and Boons featured a lot! A lot of my reading ‘problems’ stem from the fact that because I read so quickly, I forget many books as soon as I put them down (assuming I don’t re-read them a gazillion times, of course). I swear, in pre-Kindle days, I once bought the same thriller three times because I’d forgotten I’d read it already. Twice.
The reason I’m including all these book related musings today is because I’ve just taken a new job. It’s only temporary and only part-time but it’ll give my brain time to clear itself. I can get very mugged up in the plots that I’m writing until the lines between reality and fiction are no longer clear! Anyway, the job is in the library of my old school. The person they had employed for the new school year wasn’t able to take up the position so I’ve stepped into the breach until someone permanent can be found. I’ll be helping primary kids to choose books and become more adept at reading, and aiding secondary kids with research for essays. The truth is that I can’t wait. Two full days a week surrounded by thousands of books? And then the rest of the week writing my own? Does life get ANY better?
Photo by faungg’s photos