Alexander Averin

Monday, 14 April 2008

On Reading.: A Love Affair

Dear Diary,

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, 1811
English novelist (1775 - 1817)

There has been much talk at our book group tonight of reading and of children’s literature in particular. I just want to pen a few words on the subject.

Reading? Words? Books? Stories?

The love affair started when I was still very young.

Around the nineteen- fifties classroom we all sat while letters and their sounds became ingrained within us. Was it a kind of foreplay, this everyday recitation, a for apple, b for bat, c for cat, d for dog?

Moving on apace I soon realised the repetitious time had been well spent. Soon, with Janet and John’s help, I won the class prize for reading and was presented with a little book called Little Kanga’s Pocket about a mother kangaroo and her baby. I still have it.

Arithmetic never moved me in quite the same way, for it was a case of trying hard but getting nothing from it, though I did enjoy learning the times tables by rote, it was almost musical, all this recitation lark and I could let my mind wander as we all spoke the numbers together, into the air. Over and over. Every day.

Why don’t the children do this nowadays?

I was hopeless at handwork (what a quaint expression that was, ‘handwork‘). I have always been cackhanded in the extreme, all fingers and thumbs that’s me.

So to get a prize for reading was very nice. But there were more than literary prizes to be achieved; I also gained the thrill of adventure and a secret way to escape from my own sad circumstance. And I found the path that led to a space within my head which led to my heart or was it my spirit? Where do these things lie? It set something free in me anyway and my love just grew and grew.

And now, many years have passed and we are still together and still in love…… reading and me. We have never ever been apart and yet still my passion is unspent. I even work in a library, the place I call a keeper of dreams, not just for me of course. I share my lover with everyone.

Generous aren’t I?

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


CAMILLA said...

Lovely post Cait, and beautiful pictures, I love the Carl Larrson art works.

I too was uninterested in Maths, english was and is my all time favourite subject. I forgot to mention on my Book Blog that I received a book every year as a way of Prize Giving for English when I was at first school, presented to me at the time by the late Quinton Hog - MP, must admit this did put a 'spring' in my step.

When I was about six or seven I received my very first Prize Giving Book of Who Killed Cock Robin in hardback with illustrations, and Rhymes to the actual sad story of the little Robin killed by the Sparrow.

You have a wonderful job as Librarian Cait, I would love to work in a Library.

I love your Diary's Cait, and your writing is an inspiration to us all.


Faith said...

Your lover has plenty to go round!

Being the same age as you roughly I suppose I learnt with Janet and John. The first book I remember reading to myself was Chicken Licken and I thought he was ridiculous - everyone knew the sky didnt fall in! I didnt enjoy learning the tables by rote and didnt really learn them properly until I had to help my own girls. I remember being 6 and seeing these long charts put up every day and not really understanding what they were about. If only someone had explained, like they do nowadays!

Pipany said...

Oh how I love everything about reading Cait - the solitude, the secrecy of the plot unshared with anyone but me, the book itself full of beautiful words....I'll leave it there! Sorry I missed your survey yesterday xx

Milla said...

I did enjoy maths, but that was for the satisfaction quotient: you KNEW you were right, no fudging like with science at which I was rubbish. But reading never felt like a subject. A treat. And an essential part of me. Feel naked and restless without a book on the go and the next one lined up. Have far more books than I will ever read but I like the idea of the continuity, at least I don't panic that I will run out of books, when I was a child, surveying the library shelves, I had just that panic, that one day I would have read them all and what would I do then! I think that children are well served, and adults, but it is luring "young people" across the divide where the work is to be done. So much of it is sensationalist and poor. Oh, and I learnt with good old sturdy old Peter and Jane who don't get mentioned as much as they should. Oh, and yesterday, the survey, how could I forget Ant and Bee and Kind Dog!!! Add them to my list pronto. And, yes, Faith, loathed Chicken Licken, what a DULL book.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Mmmm isn't interesting that quite a few of us have won prizes for writing etc. I won first prize in a national writing competition as a child and was highly commended in the Daily Mail for a poem I had written for their poetry writing competition.

Reading and writing is indeed a lifelong love affair.

Inthemud said...

That was lovely.
I'm so with you, Once i learnt to read there was no stopping me either and I too have no great affinity with arithmatic.

I'm just sad that I won't live long enough to read all the books i want to get through, even if i live to be 100!

Preseli Mags said...

Lovely blog. I worried that my children would not love reading as much as I do, but their ever expanding book collection and complete addiction to the next one and then the next one has rather set my mind at rest! I'd forgotten about Peter and Jane, Milla, I remember those books too. I wonder if they are still around now?

Pondside said...

I look forward to hearing what your book club had to say in (re) the survey that we all took.
I too adored reading from an early age. It was an escape from and to.
The images on your post are gorgeous - dreamy but focussed in the way that one is with a really good book!

ChrisH said...

Totally with you. (Sorry still feeling a bit limp!)

Fennie said...

And rote learning of tables. We had, in those predecimal days to chant

Three nines are twenty-seven pence two and threepence. Four nines are thirty six pence three shillings and so forth all the way up and down the tables.

Great blog.

Cowgirl said...

Loved your blog today - I think you and I were alike as children, I always had my head in a book - very little interest in competitive games but liked the friendly ones. Maths was a struggle too, but I shone a bit at Geography & English and once won a certificate for honours in English... all a long time ago ... but brought back by your post!

What a shame I didn't see your previous post in time to take part in the survey - I would have enjoyed that wander backward too!

Milkmaid said...

Lovely blog, I forget about reading for pleasure, somewhere between A levels and my degree. I began to find reading hard as all I read were text books. So I joined the local library and have never faltered since. My husband cannot connect with books and he finds great joy in numbers and says they are really clever, just one little way in which we are completely different

elizabethm said...

I was just the same at school - English and reading were just what I liked to do and hardly a subject at all. Even when I got to university the idea that I got a degree for reading stuff seemed quite outlandish.