Hey guys, I'm really happy to welcome Alex Blackmore to To Another World today, talking about her favourite books as a child!
My Favourite Childhood Books – Why Reading Is Great
There is nothing like that moment when you discover books for the first time. The incredible parallel universes that a book opens up, the areas of your imagination that it awakens. Even now that feeling of warmth I used to get as a child as I opened the first page of a crisp, new tome or a well thumbed library book is still there - anticipation at what might lay between those covers, the excitement of immersing myself in a story that was as unpredictable as it was magical. Books envelope you in a whole world that is entirely as you want to interpret it – they are pure escapism on your own terms.
Magic always played a key part in defining my literary favourites – and probably still does if I’m honest, although I think the idea of what is ‘magical’ changes as you get older. Because of this, my most loved books as a kid and a teen were those that had something more to offer than just the mundanety of every day life. A wardrobe through which you could find another world full of ice queens and heroic lions, a garden that came alive several centuries ago when the clock struck 13, or a land where the objective was not to complete maths homework or get out of bed on time for the school bus in the morning but to make a ‘wild rumpus’ with a bunch of unearthly creatures straight from what might have been the depths of my own very vivid imagination.
I was scared of the dark as a child and yet it seemed to make me more motivated to read about things that go bump in the night, although I always preferred the mystery of something like Nancy Drew to full on horror. I found Roald Dahl’s slightly gut wrenching creations like the Twits and Miss Trunchbull from Matilda appalling and wonderful and I loved the fact that usually all the ‘bad’ characters got what was coming to them – it was possibly the first time I realised that I had a very strong inbuilt sense of justice.
I always liked the characters in books who
could achieve things, win fights, figure out problems, inspire people and stand
up for themselves against the odds. I wasn’t so keen on the delicate characters
and those that didn’t have any courage. Books where children were doing things
for themselves like the Railway Children and Swallows and Amazons fed my instinct
that I could do everything better than the adults who kept trying to tell me
what to do. Some things haven’t really changed…
From my mid teens it became very important to me to be able to read about women who inspired me – possibly at the point at which I started wondering what kind of woman I could be – but books like that were hard to find and I got sucked into tales of cheerleaders and boys. I was never particularly taken with the literary classics where women would mostly sit and crochet or wait for earth shattering romance to come to them. No matter how historically accurate they might have been, or how subtle the social commentary, I would always much rather read about a girl going on adventures and proving that she could do anything just as well as a boy. Although I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice – because of Elizabeth Bennett of course.
I’ll admit that when I was younger I struggled with some of the denser classics, such as The Hobbit or Dickens, although I loved The Catcher In The Rye. Happily, I’ve since found the books I couldn’t get into back then I really enjoy now. And that’s the great thing about books - even if you don’t like them when you’re 13 you can still come back to them in a couple of years and you’ll find something engaging inside the covers.
I don’t know at what age I started reading thrillers but they are definitely my favourite genre. Heroes, danger, excitement, issues and intrigue – what more could you want from a good read!