Memory Lane

Do you remember how you developed a love of reading?

I think I can say without hesitation that the one book that really turned me into the bibliophile I am, was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I remember I was nine years old, and my teacher made us keep a record of the books we read in our school diaries. There was a huge, sleek bookstore in the city that I loved visiting, and along one entire wall, there were shelves and shelves of Puffin Classics, arranged in colours to form a rainbow. I was naturally drawn to these books because of their colours, and I wanted to own every single one of them (for the colours). I don’t think they even make them anymore, the way they used to. Penguin does this crazy updating of covers every few years. I mean, the new ones look great, but… Needless to say, the colour of this particular edition of Jane Eyre was a lovely dusty lavendar colour, and as I was going through a distinctly purple phase at the time, I picked it out of the thousands there were.

So, I had my copy of Jane Eyre, and it was lovely and purple and new (although now that I look at the cover, it’s quite ugly). After reading the first few chapters, I seem to have gotten tired of it, because I recorded in my diary that I had stopped reading it. My teacher commented in the diary that perhaps I should try something a little less difficult. At those words, I immediately picked it up again and ploughed through it with an unprecedented determination. I think, after Mr Rochester was introduced into the story, I was considerably more into it than I had been before. I mean, Jane’s character seemed a little shaky. Mentally, you know. All those tantrums and what not. Since then, I’ve lost count of the many, many times I’ve read Jane Eyre. Those Brontes really knew how to tell their stories.

What are some books you loved as a child?

I loved The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S Lewis. The best ones were The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My year four teacher used to show us the BBC mini-series of it every lunchtime (they are so much better than the recent Hollywood version). That was all the way back in 1998; ten years ago! No wonder people laugh at the special effects now. Well, anyway, my teacher – she was wonderful! She always kept a jar of turkish delight in her room

The Philip Pullman books were all good as well but I always thought the Northern Lights trilogy was a bit overrated – the Sally Lockhart series was so much more enjoyable. Crime, mystery, adventure and a feisty heroine. What more could you possibly want in a book? That said, I’m a bit biased because I don’t like science fiction much.

Going a bit further back, there’s the wonderful Enid Blyton. I always thought she was Australian, but turns out she’s actually British. Oops! I especially loved the Adventure series – now that I think of it, the names are a bit of a giveaway: Dinah, Jack, Philip. Very British names – and the Magic Faraway Tree books. Moonface was my favourite character! She wrote so many great series… The Famous Five and The Secret Seven (?). I think that’s what they were called, anyway.

There is, of course, Harry Potter. I remember in the summer of 2000, I was in year five and every kid on the school bus was reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. That is my most distinct Harry Potter memory. I ordered my copy from those Scholastic Book Club order forms we used to get from school, and the day it arrived I was literally writhing with happiness. It’s all torn and tattered now because I’ve read it so many times. I really loved that book – until the fifth one came out! My love for Harry Potter is really quite silly. I can’t comprehend why I love it so much.

What is your favorite genre?

I don’t know, I’m a very partial person. I mostly detest genre fiction, aside from a few blatant exceptions (i.e. Harry Potter, Philippa Gregory and now Agatha Christie). I adore any book that is well-written and well thought out – that pretty much rules out most commercial fiction. I hate to give labels and divide books into ‘literary fiction’ and and ‘Woolworths books’, but there you have it. It’s literary fiction that holds my attention

Do you have a favorite novel?

I’ll name the top ten: Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, The Count of Monte Cristo, Mrs Dalloway, the Harry Potter books, Atonement, Persuasion…

Where do you usually read?
In summer, in the backyard and in winter, somewhere near the heater

When do you usually read?
In the evenings

Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?
Yes, because I usually borrow about ten or so books at one time from the library, and they’re all due the same day. I average two or three at the same time, but not more than that – I start to get confused between books if it’s any more than three

Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?
No, most of the time I start forgetting that it’s non-fiction anyway, especially with biographies. I love biographies because they have pictures, and I always flick through them to see the pictures first. Hahah!

Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out from the library?
I’ll buy classics, regardless of whether I’ve read them before or not, because I know that I’ll read and re-read them, or if they’re crap, I’ll always get back to them later and end up falling in love anyway (it’s just a matter of time). With contemporary literature, if I’ve heard the book is really good, I’ll buy it before reading it, otherwise I’ll borrow a library copy and maybe buy it afterwards. Most books I get from the local library, which is a great source of books, Biographies – I’ll definitely buy them. Actually, I reckon it’s 50/50. I spend a lot of time in the library, but I also browse the bookstores a lot, and if I see something that catches my eye, I’ll buy it straight away.

Do you keep most of the books you buy?
YES. Not most, all. When I was younger, I used to absolutely murder books. – crease the spines, fold the pages, spill stuff all over them, but now I treat them a bit too cautiously. I don’t even lend people my books, what are the chances of me giving them away?

If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?
Um, I’m still in high school.

What are you reading now?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I know, I’m pathetic), Leonardo Da Vinci: Flights of the Mind by Charles Nicholl

Do you keep a To Be Read List?
Yes. Hello, Goodreads.

What’s next?
Don’t know, haven’t checked.

What books would you like to re-read?
Would I? Would I? I’m always re-reading books, particularly the ones on my top shelf. Harry Potter, I re-read constantly, maybe up to three times a year (that is crazy). And i thihnk I re-read The Great Gatsby every summer. It’s such a deliciously summerish book.

Who are your favorite authors?
Virginia Woolf – that reminds me, I still haven’t posted about Between the Acts – and A S Byatt are my all-time favourites.


4 thoughts on “Memory Lane

  1. I can’t believe you’ve never heard of her! Most of her books were published fifty years before I was born, so they’ve been around for quite a while. Surely you’ve heard of The Magic Faraway Tree?! You know, Silky, Moonface and Saucepan Man? The Land of Topsy Turvy and Do-as-you-please? I’m starting to get sentimental now… they were such fun books.

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