Love of Libraries

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…

August 2016

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.

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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…

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Agatha Christie madness

This is by way of a long winded apology to anyone who has stuck around long enough to read this blog. Firstly, I didn’t think I’d get so behind on posting my reading. Second, I didn’t think I’d get so behind on actually reading my target of 52 books this year, one for every week. Thirdly, I didn’t think the blog would turn into a chronicle of a reading love affair with Agatha Christie. So, I’m sorry three times!

I want to explain why Christie has taken over my reading life of late. It all started in 2006 I believe. I read my first Poirot from the library and quickly read many more in rapid succession. I’ve always liked Poirot best, and for a time exclusively looked for the books he featured in above other works by the Queen of Crime. For a couple of years now I’ve been down to my last handful of Poirot related books (although there are certainly many more Christie’s left- she wrote so many). It’s been my target for the past two years to finish all the Poirot novels and I’ve had the last few on standby. This year just three remained. They were Mrs McGinty’s Dead, Poirot’s Early Cases and Curtain: Poirot’s Final Case. I read the first earlier this year and then something strange happened. I started reading random Marple books and a lot of Agatha’s stand alone works (many of which are far more brilliant than I gave Dame Christie credit for).

I think this is a confession as well as an ode to Agatha. I don’t want to finish Poirot. Yes, there will still be the odd short story I haven’t read, plenty of stand alone whodunnits and a small pile of Miss Marple but I will miss the great mustached Belgian detective. However, I’ve set my sights on reading them this year and I’ve saved the last book for last (the rest have been read in a completely random order). The reason I’m writing this post is partly because of TV. I’ve watched various of David Suchet’s adaptations over the years and now they too are almost at an end. I’m so excited to watch Dead Man’s Folly tonight. It’s set at Agatha’s old holiday retreat Greenway, that I visited this summer and while we were there the staff spoke about the filming. So, if you’ve not tried the Poirot series yet, try it tonight for the majestic house Christie once loved, and the boathouse in which she set a key part of this story. I can’t wait to see how they’ve used the places where I stood this summer.

So here we are at the second reason why 2013 has involved a massive Agatha Christie kick. Once I knew we were going to Torquay in the summer, I found out that not only was there an Agatha Christie mile but also that there was a chance of visiting her nearby holiday home on the river Dart. Greenway is run by the National Trust now and it was brilliant to see where Christie and er family enjoyed ther holidays in Devon. Before we went I read several Christie books back to back, especially those set in the locations we would visit. I also read about Agatha’s houses in Agaths Christie at Home. When I got back I thought I would have a break and started on some Patricia Cornwell. Then I read A Murder is Announced. Now I want to get back to my Poirots so I can watch the final episode when it comes on, safe in the knowledge I’ve read the book first. I will be sad to see both the books and the series ending but the time seems to have come.

So, the gist of this long and rambling post is that you’ll have to bear with me. Teaching is getting in the way of both reading and blogging. And this blogger is unabashedly in love with the wors of Agatha Christie. More reviews to follow!

Still to come… Three more Agatha Christie books, one Patricia Cornwell and two graphic novels based on Poirot books!