Gateway Books Part One

Hello Bookworms!

I’ve fallen down a nostalgia induced Google wormhole today trying to research this blog post – aargh!

*Bonus points for knowing what 90’s music video this is from

Why have I spent the last hour chuckling at images of old Just 17 magazines and frantically trying to place random tv theme tunes? Well, I’ve been looking back through my life to see which books have been the real game-changers… the ones that I’m calling:

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A whole new worrrrrrlllllldddddd….

Ahem.

So, I thought it would be good to start at the beginning, when I first began to choose my own books. I guess at around ten years old I was mostly reading:

Children’s Fiction (unsurprisingly)

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I remember reading Goodnight Mister Tom with the rest of the class at primary school and it was so sad but utterly captivating too. Even the annoying kids with poor concentration were absolutely gripped by the story! The backdrop of the war led me to  other books like Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo and Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden and when I was even older, books like All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Birdsong by Sebastien Faulks (which I purchased years ago and still haven’t got round to reading, oops).

I also LOVED all of those animal stories written for children like The Sheep Pig by Dick King-Smith (which was made into the film Babe) and Charlotte’s Web, which very nearly made me a vegetarian (but failed at the first sniff of a bacon sandwich). I still love books about animals – I recently read The Bees by Laline Paull which was both super interesting and super-disturbing.

I also read lots of…

Children’s Classics

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I went through a big Enid Blyton phase when I was younger, especially The Famous Five (I wanted to be George, obvs) and Mallory Towers, which made me want to go to boarding school. I can draw a direct line between this book and a later series of books set at a somewhat more magical boarding school… in hindsight these books are pretty problematic but at the time I loved them.

I also loved books like What Katy Did, where naughty Katy got her comeuppance and learnt to be good by following the meek and mild Aunt Helen. I have SUCH vivid memories from this book – the medicine bottles on the shelf, the cracked staple holding up the fateful swing, the menus she would have to write where she complained that every meal had to either be pork, chicken or beef and couldn’t someone just invent a new meat (something I regularly think about when I can’t decide what to cook). The feminist in me shudders at this story now but at the time I couldn’t get enough of it. I have equally fond memories of books by E. Nesbit like The Railway Children and Five Children and It, which led me to the fantastical, magical stories of people like Neil Gaiman.

Finally, I also got very much into…

Humour/Humorous Poetry

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(Aargh why won’t these pictures align????)

I went on holiday when I was about eight or so and, glory of glories, there was a whole bookshelf full of (adult) books for any of my family to borrow. I chose to read The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 which, in hindsight, was far too old for me (I think I just skipped over the parts that I didn’t understand) and Some More of Me Poetry by Pam Ayres, which was really funny in a very innocent 1970’s way (or at least, that’s how I remember it). Both of the books were brilliantly amusing and made me love that kind of downtrodden working class sense of humour, leading me on to the rest of Sue Townsend’s works and even into stand up like Victoria Wood and working class folk-rockers like Grace Petrie:

 

And with that solid grounding in literature, I ventured into my teenage years… which will have to wait for another post!

So, what books did you enjoy growing up? How do you think they influenced your reading tastes now? Did they a wider impact on you as a person? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion: Reading More Than One Book At A Time

A long time ago, when I was a little girl, I would traipse off to the library every week with my Mum or Dad to max out my library card. Going with Dad was better because he would check out a couple of books for me on his card, allowing me to get more than the measly six maximum that the library allowed (classic parenting skills – my Mum would just force me to put some of my choices back. I think my Dad couldn’t be bothered with the hassle). Anyway, when I got home I’d be so excited that I’d read a couple of chapters of one book, then be distracted by the shiny shiny Other New Books so I’d start a different one…then the same thing would happen…and before you knew it I’d have started them all (I had A LOT of bookmarks). Fast forward thirty years and…I still do exactly the same thing. No self control, me ☺

I had absolutely NO IDEA this was weird until I mentioned it on a tag and everyone was like “that’s crazy!” and I was like “is it? I thought it was normal!” 

Evidently not.

So, confession time: I’m currently reading nine different books at the same time. 

(I’ll leave a little gap here so you have time to digest that)

Do you get confused between the stories?

No, fictional questioner. I tend to read from different genres so I can keep all of the plots straight in my head. To me it’s like watching different tv shows – sometimes I binge read one book, sometimes I’ll read a few chapters then flip to something else. 

Do you ever accidentally leave a book that you’re not that into for months on end then forget what’s going on?

Occasionally this does happen but I have a reading planner to prevent such mishaps (get me!) It also stops me from maxing out library renewals because it can take me months to finish a book that I don’t really like.

What are the best things about reading lots of books at once?

I love the variety – you can swap between books and read whatever takes your fancy. It makes reading difficult/long/boring books easier as you can dip in and out of them when you’re in the right frame of mind. It staves off reading slumps by allowing me to start reading that new book that I’m excited about and it gives me more flexibility to fit in ARC’s that have tight deadlines. It also means that if I’m reading a big heavy paperback I don’t have to lug it round with me everywhere!

Do you have any tips for budding multi book readers?

I find it easier to read books that are wildly different from each other so if you’re going to start mixing it up I’d try to make sure I was reading a maximum of one book per genre. Also, make sure you’re prioritising books with deadlines (library books, ARC’s, borrowed books etc.) because it might take you a lot longer to get through them. And finally – enjoy the freedom!

Do you read more than one book at a time, or do you think the whole idea is batshit crazy? Are you tempted to join the dark side? Let me know in the comments!