Enid Blyton

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Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Published April 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

What did I think?:

Oh my goodness, what could be better than a book about books? My boyfriend got me this book as a gift and as a loud and proud bookworm, he couldn’t have got me anything better. Seriously, this must be how some girls feel when they’re given jewellery? Lucy Mangan’s thorough exploration of her childhood reading is beautifully nostalgic and warmed my heart. We hear small parts of Lucy’s own life but unlike other memoirs, as the title suggests, this book is focused purely on how different books have shaped the author’s life. As a bookish, rather solitary child myself, I nodded along with almost everything the author described. For example, the joys of being sent to your room as a punishment – hey, more time alone to read right? Or the delights of reading under your cover with a torch when you’re supposed to be sleeping, which made me very tired the next morning at school but strangely satisfied as I managed to finish the book I was reading!

From the delights of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Lucy takes us through books that meant something to her as a child and how they changed her as a person. Lucy is slightly older than me by six years so some of the books I wasn’t instantly familiar with but I had a bundle of fun researching them on Google, especially when she mentioned illustrators like Edmund Evans and Maurice Sendak. However, the cockles of my heart were well and truly warmed when she mentioned my own childhood favourites like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia, the master that is Roald Dahl, the heart-break of Charlotte’s Web, the goddess of adventure stories that is Enid Blyton and of course, my own personal heroine, Judy Blume. Helpfully, the author also provides a complete list of all the books she mentions in the appendix and I have to admit to adding quite a few to my wish-list!

Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading is a gorgeous, evocative read that will have you remembering the books that really made an impression on you when you were younger and leave you with a wistful urge to re-read them all over again. The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is that there were a few books that I didn’t know and so didn’t quite feel the same connection with as others. However, this is a fantastic journey back in time that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly anticipate reading again in the future next time I need a trip down memory lane. The style of Lucy Mangan’s writing really invites you in and makes you feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend about the favourite topic of any bookworm of course – BOOKS. I’ve got that fuzzy, gooey feeling all over again just talking about this book!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

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Books Are My Bag – My Bookish Life So Far…

Published September 14, 2013 by bibliobeth

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Books Are My Bag is a nationwide celebration of bookshops, calling on all bookworms to purchase a book from their local bookshop on Saturday 14th September,especially as so many of our beloved shops are under threat. So now I am the proud owner of a Books Are My Bag tote bag courtesy of Waterstones Wimbledon branch, I thought it would be a good opportunity to reflect on My Bookish Life So Far in order to shout out about all things book-related.

Early childhood – Teddy, Timmy the dog, School stories and A Big, Friendly Giant

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This was my very first book! And as dear to me as when I first read it. My mum taught me to read at a very early age (Thanks Mum!) and she always tells the story of when I was at kindergarten and my teacher pulled my mum into a corner for a quiet word. Apparently, I had got a bunch of kids around me and was reading them a story. The teacher thought I was making the story up for the children as I was so young, yet she was shocked that I was reading the actual words. So she spoke to my mum saying: “Do you know your daughter can read?!” My mum replied: “Er…yes, I taught her!”

The books I loved as a child were mainly Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl based – I adored The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and The Malory Towers series from Blyton and The BFG and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Dahl. My all-time favourite book from this time though has to be House at The Corner by Enid Blyton. I read it so many times as a child that it was literally falling apart, but I would refuse to be parted from it.

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The Teenage Years – Horror, and some saucy stuff from Blume

As a teenager, I remember being absolutely obsessed with the Point Horror and Christopher Pike books, which were probably easing me in to my current obsession with my favourite author Stephen King. I had to have them all, and would devour them in a matter of hours.

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Another fond memory from my adolescent reading are novels from Judy Blume, whom I idolised. Other girls of my age must remember passing around “Forever” at school, and being delighted, horrified and curious at the same time?

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The Twenties – Thrills, chills, the King and Historical Fiction

Ah, I discover Stephen KIng! I have a whole shelf devoted to him, and he remains one of my favourite authors today.

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For anyone who has never read him, I highly recommend The Green Mile, The Shining, and It as fantastic reads and a great introduction to his works. During this time I was also reading a lot of thrillers, namely Dean Koontz and James Patterson, and discovered a love of historical fiction a la Philippa Gregory. Her Tudor novels are wonderfully written, and hey… you might even learn a little something?

The Early Thirties – I become a blogger, my reading tastes diversify and my books multiply!

My love for books has only got stronger through the years, and I now read a wide range of material, including non-fiction. I started a blog in January of this year, and I have loved submitting reviews, attending events like The Hay Festival, and “meeting” other bookworms like myself. I listen to a variety of podcasts to keep updated on all literary events, including Books On The Nightstand, A Good Read (Radio 4), Open Book (Radio 4) and Guardian Books. I also love my Kindle, which can store hundreds of books (without the added weight) and find it essential for any sort of commute.

Warning – book buying can turn obsessive and compulsive and you may end up with shelves like these:

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So, how do I see my bookish future? I hope to be still reading a range of material, and enjoying the printed word as much as I do at the moment. Even with the advances in technology, I strongly feel that there is nothing like going into a bookshop, enjoying the sight and smells, purchasing something that catches your eye, and enjoying the journey that it takes you on.

Support your local bookshop! Make books YOUR bag!