The Books We Read

16 Nov
'You don't understand this letter? It means that your reading comprehension skills are under par. You will have to enroll in remedial courses.'

‘You don’t understand this letter? It means that your reading comprehension skills are under par. You will have to enroll in remedial courses.’

I grew up in a house of readers.  Everyone was always reading and we had a house full of books.  My own house today reflect this. For one, I need very precise conditions to sustain reading for any length of time – usually holidays when there’s nothing to distract me and I can spend time sitting up.  Reading in bed doesn’t work for me. I can’t read in the slightest reclining position – I just fall asleep. It’s a major handicap. When I go to bed I know I’ll be asleep within 30 seconds.  That can be quite a blessing but it doesn’t give a book much hope.

However, the main reason is that I’ve been a fussy reader.  I’m not prepared to waste time on a mediocre read – some contrived and convoluted story with exaggerated plots and characters or endless descriptions of the scenery.  The time also has to be right when I read a book. It was only this year I was in the right “space” to read Pillars of the Earth.

Every book I pick up is a potential friend.  I spent hours looking across the book shelves searching for inspiration.  Sometimes I preferred reading the encyclopaedia, the Guinness Book of Records and all Asterix books or any sports books.  I also dipped into plays – punchy and short!  We had a collection of Listeners that I enjoyed.  It’s sad to say that I can’t really remember any of the books I read during my school years though– except the ones we did for School Cert and Bursary.

For me – and I won’t be alone -reading at school was really very important.  It meant that I did actually have to read.  I remember reading The Ancient Mariner, we studied Twelfth Night.  We also read Wuthering Heiights.  The teacher played an important role in making them seem both exciting and important in some way.  The selection at school texts seems pretty bizarre to me – it did then and it does now: They were often a real drag.  Steinbeck was a rare treat. Thankfully we did Macbeth which we all loved.  Best of all, by far, was Day of the Triffids. Punchy and potent.  Plus there was a great TV series to go with it. This was me.

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