I wrote this post seven months ago and left it unfinished. I came back to it today and couldn’t bring myself to delete it. I nearly did, thinking the first part was too personal, not enough about books, but I remember writing it in a huge flow of words last year, knowing my life was changing. I’m going to let you read it, and it does get bookish after a while. I called this post Love of Libraries, and I think I then didn’t get on to why it was titled that. I’m going to post what I have, and then write another post in praise of libraries shortly. Watch this space. In the meantime, here’s my flashback to last summer…
Libraries are amazing. They are like my dream place; shelf upon shelf of books, just waiting for you to discover them. In my recent life, I haven’t been to many libraries. The fact is simple; as many of you know; I am a bookaholic and I have bought books with a passion that has left me with about 200 unread tomes, filling my bookshelves, my house and my life. The problem is, I was, for the last eight years anyway, a teacher. This left me with no time to read. In fact it left me with no time for anything as I became steadily more consumed by the job, and my work/life balance became nonexistent. To touch on my own story, which is slightly relevant but a digression here, I got burnt out by a job many outsiders describe as easy. I got disillusioned by the demands of the powers that be that we test children as young as four, and worse than that regard them as numbers on a page, not living breathing quirky and mischievous human beings. Then, I got out. I write this as a new and uncharted chapter of my life begins. I am not a primary school teacher anymore. Not until I can recharge and regain myself outside the confines of a school, and a career, that I loved but it no longer loves me back.
So now I find myself one again with time to read. For the last few months, as I resigned and came to terms with the decision to leave teaching, possibly for good, I read nothing but Harry Potter books (some for the second time, some for the third or fourth). When I say read, I mean consumed in an unhealthy obsessive fashion. More on the start of that here. Then I made my Mum, a stubborn resister of the charms of J.K. Rowling and the world she created, read them all. Then I read the new play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and loved it.
In this time of obsession I read only one other book: How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis. This book made me want to read many others, which are analysed and described by the author as she charts her life in terms of the heroines she has read about and identified with or wanted to be.
This brings me nicely onto what happened this week. A friend gave me a book. This may not sound exciting or special to you, but although I have friends who love books and friends who have only a casual relationship with books, I have not really ever been given a book as a present by a friend. My mum, my husband, my brother and my dad give me books. My friends talk to me about books, but never has someone gone out of their way to get me a book they’d recommended before. Now, among my friends, I like to think I’m the go-to person for book knowledge. They want a recommendation, they ask me. They want to know if there are any children’s books about ladybirds they can read to their class: I will know. The book my friend handed me this week is The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan. Those of you who have read this blog may well be thinking, that’s not something she would read! Well, in my teen years I did read many books I would call ‘chick-lit’ and enjoyed them very much. Then I found Ian Rankin in my final year of university and became a crime reader. What I loved about this particular book was my friend’s enthusiastic statement that the protagonist reminded her so much of me. I read it so quickly and enjoyed it so much, largely because I was drinking in this character my friend had identified as ‘me’. if you’re interested, the main character is a librarian who is being made redundant. She knows what books people need. She loves recommending books. She sets up her own ‘book van’: a shop on wheels full of books. I wish I was this person! My own bookshop is my absolute dream.
To be continued…