The Joy of Books


You see that grumpy looking wee girl in the front there? The one with the pudding bowl haircut? That’s me, age 6, having my photo taken for the local paper to ‘celebrate’ taking part in a month long read-a-thon at my primary school.

Despite what the photo would have you believe, I love reading. I always have.

Books are the only things I can spend money on without any sense of guilt. Even if it’s a trashy celeb biography, there’s always a part of me that hears a teacher’s or a parent’s voice in my head saying, “Ahhh, but reading is educational.” That makes it a lot easier to add another book to the already-towering pile and head towards the till.

When we moved to our new house, we had to put the vast majority of our books into storage; about 40 or 50 big boxes full. Having always lived in houses where there are bookcases everywhere, groaning under the weight of what they hold, it’s a very odd feeling to now be living without them. But at the same time it has been strangely liberating.

I’m no longer confronted on a daily basis by the shelf of shame – that one row of weighty classics that you know you really should read but you never quite get round to. It has also given me an excuse to start a new book collection to keep me going until we get our boxes back – so I’ve taken the opportunity to read things that I wouldn’t normally consider. Since Christmas, when a few kindly souls gave us books and book tokens as gifts – my fairly eclectic reading list has included The Psychopath Test, The Happiness Project, Walk the Lines, Catching Babies, and The Book Thief.

By some twist of fate, the one box of books that we were able to keep with us was the one that contained lots of my teenage favourites that I hadn’t looked at in years. I gave away hundreds and hundreds of books when I left home and started university, and it’s something I slightly regret now – couldn’t we all do with some Judy Blume and Paula Danziger in our lives still?! But I did hold onto a couple of dozen that I really loved like Goodnight Mr Tom and Little Women – and I’m having brilliant fun re-reading those now.

I also, thankfully, had the wherewithal to hang onto some childhood favourites – like Dear Zoo, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Harriet and the Rollercoaster,  and I Want to See The Moon – which I can now enjoy reading with DorkySon. When DorkySon was just a few days old, the community midwife came round for a home visit and got a vicious fit of the giggles when she spotted him propped on DorkyDad’s knee, looking intently at a cloth book full of shapes and squiggles. “Don’t you think you’re starting him a bit early?” she said.

But honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing as too early. I think the joy you can get from reading is hard to match, and if you don’t want your kids to be intimidated by books then they need to feel comfortable with them from an early age. It thrills me that now he’s nearly three, DorkySon is such a huge fan of books. He would happily sit on the sofa all day if there were someone willing to read with him.

Now that we’ve got his love of reading covered, we just need to work on his dazzling smile. If he ever has his photo taken for a local newspaper then I want to make sure he looks a bit more enthusiastic than I did…

18 responses

  1. Hahaha. Love it. You look so sheepish, sitting at the front there.
    Wonder what I’d think if I read Judy Blume’s Forever now….?
    Reading has been a huge part of my life, and I struggle to find the time since the kids came along. But there’s nothing more relaxing than an early night and a good book.
    Agree with you that it’s never too early. Even though they can’t read yet, my two boys love sitting with their books – even when I’m not around to read to them – looking at the pictures and making up stories from memory.

    • Re Forever: I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I still get terrible giggles if I ever meet anyone called Ralph!

      I agree, it’s hard to find time to read with kids. It was easier with a newborn, but I didn’t really have the mental capacity for it then – I think I stretched about as far as the Loose Women book, but nothing more taxing than that!

      So sad when you hear about kids starting primary school and not even knowing how to hold a book – so pleased to hear that your boys are fans too 🙂 xx

  2. I agree, it’s never too early! As a child you would have been hard pressed to find me without my nose in a book. A great piece as usual, love the picture too!

  3. For as long as I can remember books have always been a huge part of my life. As a kid we used to go on walking holidays and I would race ahead so I could sit at various points, waiting for the rest of the family whilst reading my book!

    I’m currently trying to save money by not allowing myself to buy new books until I’ve made a big dent in my unread pile. There’s a great number of classics in there too, but progress is being made as I finally finished the full version of Little Women just this week.

    Bit of a blast from the past to hear you mention Judy Blume and Paula Danziger – I used to love their stuff, ever since discovering “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” at the library.

    • Do you use the library yourself anymore? It’s funny, I go a couple of times a week with T, but only ever get books out for him, I never even think to look for myself which is daft really.

      I got some Judy Blume books for my teenage niece last year and she loved them, so they’re obviously pretty timeless. I think I actually preferred Paula Danziger – she was a bit kookier – but she doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time so well; her books are incredibly difficult to get hold of now.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing a little more book love 🙂 x

      • Finally got round to reading your comment on my comment (how circular can this get?)

        Have to admit that I can’t remember the last fiction book that I got from the library! I take LMC frequently and get out non-fiction books for me, especially parenting and cookery ones, but never get round to the fiction shelves. I do have the world’s biggest “to be read” pile though which I am slooooooowly working my way through now.

        I seem to recall that Judy Bloom books were actually quite old when I read them – especially as in “Are you there God…” I recall Margaret talking about a Sanitary belt and at the time thinking how awful it must be to have to wear one!

      • I finally got round to taking a book out of the library for me this week… and it was rubbish! I ended up taking it back without finishing it. I guess I should stick to the kids section after all 😉

  4. I just found some of my childhood books recently and our house is like a minature library between the 4 of us!
    Do I spy a vintage Ladybird book in there? I posted abouth mne this morning!! 🙂
    And Stig of the Dump – I loved that book as a child 🙂 Thank you for reminding me to look it out for my Wee Dude. x

    • Oooh, I’m coming over for a nosey at your post. Chat about Vintage Ladybird books seems to keep coming up recently – some friends have been hunting them down in charity shops. Brilliant things! xx

      • I have a big collection of vintage Ladybird books that I’ve been collecting from charity shops over the last year or so. I completely love them and LMC is obsessed with a few – especially the Garden Gang series and the books on Cricket and Living Creatures!

  5. We also found it a wee bit liberating to live without our books! A couple of years ago we were in a temporary rental and househunting and just left all the boxes of books in the garage for 7 months. We had one shelf of books between us! That made me even more a fan of the library than I already am. I realised that what I like is reading books, and owning them is only secondary.

    When we moved, we cut down by getting rid of anything we hadn’t enjoyed, anything we wouldn’t re-read and some we might re-read but would have no problem getting from the library. We still have a good amount of bookshelves and are never short of something to read, but now all of the books I have are ones I really love, which is a great pleasure. (Well, almost. They’re building up again now and I need to do another cull. I don’t know where they come from, since I supposedly don’t buy books these days.)

    Do give your library a go: I find I pick up books at random in a way that I’d never do if I was buying them!

  6. I wish I’d had the foresight to keep my childhood books. There’s so many I’d love to re-read and see how I feel about them as an adult. I’ve been enjoying collecting, for my toddler, the books that I remember reading to my little brothers when they were small. Whatever Next is our current favourite. I agree it’s never too early to introduce books. Found your post via the LAB showcase by the way 🙂

    • The annoying thing is when you can remember there’s a book you really loved, but you can’t remember what it is! You’ve only got a wee snippet of information in your mind and you have to try and track it down from that…

  7. Pingback: Parentonomy Carnival: Reading | Mummy Central

  8. Pingback: What I’m Reading – Ruth Dawkins Freelance Writer

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