Thursday, 25 August 2011

Why I Love Books So Much.

In times of stress or worry, or if I need some comfort, I often find myself thinking back to one of my earliest childhood memories. I have lots of very early memories – I can remember being in my baby carriage (long before those neat three-wheeled baby buggies were invented!) and crying because my mother had lowered the clear plastic cover to keep me dry in the rain. Even then, I hated being closed in! I can also clearly remember the red plaid rug that she used to sit me on out in the garden, when the weather was good. But neither of those are the one I’m talking about here.
Our family was, and is, a close one and when me and my older brother (how I always wished I was the oldest, not him!) were growing up, Mom was at home looking after us. She didn’t get a job until we were old enough to go to school. Finding things to keep us occupied never seemed hard work for her, we didn’t have much spare money but there were always plenty of toys around.

There were also books. Both parents read to us children and my brother, at a very young age, too young to read, knew the story “Dabbity Duck” off by heart and could recite it as if reading from the book my father held at bedtime. I have no particular memories of being read to at bedtime but I do remember coming round from an emergency peritonitis operation when I was eleven, and asking my mother to read to me. I doubt I was awake more than ten minutes that first time, the sound of her voice reading to me soothed me back to healing sleep.

But my most comforting memory, the one that always returns if I feel I need time to myself, to de-stress, is of a dark, cold and rainy English winter’s day. My mother and I had just returned from a walk to the local library and I had borrowed a New Book. I was so excited! There was a warm and cheery fire in the hearth, I had a small bag of chocolate buttons, and I curled up in a soft armchair with these and my New Book, and read the winter day away.

Now, maybe forty-seven years later, my best way to relax is still to do exactly the same thing. Ok, the chocolate buttons play a big part in this, but even they wouldn’t taste so good without an exciting book to read. I am very grateful to my parents for ensuring that reading and books played an important role in my life. I’m pleased when I see my grown-up stepchildren reading to their kids, and the way the kids also love books. Maybe one day, they will enjoy curling up in a big old soft armchair with a bag of chocolate buttons and one of their Nanny Cas’s fantasy books. That would surely bring a huge big smile to my face!

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