My passion for books began when I was very young. I vividly remember sitting in my bedroom as a little girl, being surrounded by Ladybird books and instantly falling in love with the story of the Little Red Hen. It’s funny the things you remember isn’t it?
Other than my family, books have always been the one constant in my life. In fact, I loved books so much, I spent four years studying them at university … although I’m not sure I can ever face a Gertrude Stein poem or a Shakespeare anthology again!
I don’t have the luxury of reading for pleasure so much these days now I’m an adult. Life has an annoying habit of making sure that the pleasurable things in life tend to organically work their way down my To Do list. However, there is one time of year where I can totally indulge in my passion for books … and that’s when I travel.
I’ve been very lucky this year in that I’ve been abroad several times, both with and without my son, for work and for pleasure, and books are always, always the first thing I pack. I don’t just take one book – I’ll take at least four, ensuring I line the bottom of my suitcase with an assortment of literature I had originally planned to read at home, but never quite found the time.
For me, a great book doesn’t have to be a Bestseller, or be full of overly-convoluted words that no-one understands … or be so ‘clever’ you completely lose the plot halfway through. A story can be simple as long as it has wonderful characters that I care about from the first page. I want to be taken on a journey from beginning to end, with twists and turns throughout. I want to feel like I’m transported somewhere else. Anywhere else.
The last book I read did exactly that – ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, which I bought for £1.25 in my local second hand bookshop, one damp Wednesday morning in April. I took this book to Rhodes with me in September and read it every day by the pool, in between attempting an aqua aerobics class (once) and drinking Strawberry Daiquiris (more than once). It’s a fairly modest tale of a humble elderly gentleman who one day goes to post a letter and ends up walking 600 miles, but Joyce’s writing is so deceptively clean and simple you feel like you’re walking every step with him. Just wonderful.
What to read next? Perhaps it will depend on where my travels take me. Maybe I’ll read ‘Kill your Friends’ by John Niven whilst on a mini cruise to Marseilles? Or ‘Love, Nina’ by Nina Stibbe whilst enjoying a weekend’s skiing in Val d’Isere? Who knows? But wherever I end up, there will be books surrounding me once more.
The American author, James Baldwin, sums up my thoughts: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”
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