A confirmed bookworm, from a very early age I would often have four or five books on the go. I read my mum’s copy of Little Women when I was about seven, and kept re-reading it again and again, along with What Katy Did, Black Beauty, Heidi…all those girls’ classics. My midnight feasts of books were tucked under my pillow ,which could get uncomfortable with too many hardbacks, but was also soothing. I was forever reading under the bedclothes with a torch and getting into trouble for it- but not that much trouble.
I grew up in a house full of books. My mother was a historian and a Jane Austen nut who kept copies of the TES for years, and my Dad has amassed a fine collection of sports biographies, especially in cricket and horce racing, as well as plenty of classic and contemporary fiction, travel writing, cook books, birdwatching manuals etc ad infitum. I get my newspaper reading habits from him too – If I can’t get my hands on a Guardian for more than a day I get twitchy, despite my online newspaper reading habits.
I am not particularly well-read. I have indiosyncratic and eclectic tastes in reading, and I am not a literary snob. At 16 I had a boyfriend who introduced to me to sci-fi and fantasy which I loved. One of my oldest friends and I used to devour Mills & Boon for fun at one point and of course like many other school girls growing up in the eighties I read a few Jackie Collins- not sure I would now though!
Over the years I’ve had lots of different interests which have been reflected in the books I have read, aromatherapy being one of them, shoes another. When I discovered I was pregnant I read about twenty books on motherhood, babies, pregnancy. There have been plenty of self-help books too, and biographies and books on pop culture.
I am not a serious book collector, although I have a couple of gems-gems for me- not necessarily for anyone else. When my marriage ended I had to sell a large number of books but over the last three years while I have been studying the numbers have crept up again and I am now back at maximum capacity.
Something has to give…
I have hoarding tendencies but also, thankfully, a healthy de-cluttering habit these days. I absolutely hate letting books go but the bookshelves are bursting at the seams and every surface in my room is covered in stacks of books. The floor has book stalagmites growing out of it and I retrieved part of my collection from underneath my chest of drawers yesterday and blew a layer of scooby-doo-haunted-house dust off them.
Someone suggested last year that I should get rid of all my books- that they were keeping me stuck in the past. I have some sympathy with this idea but for a writer that is absolutely not possible. My books are part of the tools of my trade, they are alive with ideas.
However it is time to move some of them on to new homes. Interestingly after considering which books could go I realised how much I have changed in the last few years. My tastes in reading, my interests and my concerns have broadened in some areas and specialised in others. I am very different in some ways. Which is good. I have been trying very hard to change. The results are finally starting to show.
I am still a bookworm, and there are books on the shelf which have been there since I was a young girl, mostly fairytales. Those will remain- in some ways all that I have learned up to this point has given me the confidence and the conviction to return to my roots.