In the mix of everything I've been pondering recently my enjoyment of reading keeps barging in. Nearly every day I encounter yet something else I want to find out about, or discover a book that looks interesting. It is a peculiar phenomenon that as much as I was urged as a child to learn through books, unless it was for a specific educational project, sitting reading a book was seen as being lazy when I should have been carrying out some chore. That feeling of guilt haunts me still, although I am determined to battle it. I have to: there is really not enough time to read everything!
Frederick Warren Freer: Woman and Child Reading (image from here)
Reading has been important to me right from my earliest memories. I was most fortunate that my mother was learning to read and write English when I was a baby, and as she was earning a little by embroidery also I learned to read and to sew by the time I was three. My extended family believed books to be important, so gifts were often books - even if not always appropriate, such as my Scottish grandmother's annual birthday present from the age of two ! of a novel by Sir Walter Scott. But the Christmas present from my father when I was five was a set of Arthur Mee's Encyclopaedias which lit a passion in me for pursuing enquiry, and started a desire to pass on information. Indeed that instinct to teach could be seen the following year when I was found reading to my uncle's most attentive wire haired fox terrier!
James Charles: Reading (image from here)
I was not allowed comics at home, and so I do not have the conventional literary upbringing of a girl of my era (the 50s). However, while my mother was occupied with my baby brother I did play with neighbours, two boys who had the Eagle comic which they let me read. Mostly what I was interested in was the cutaway illustration in the middle. What a treasure that was!
Some of my parents' restrictions turned out to be most beneficial. All through school years I used to do my homework in my bedroom, and inevitably I would complete my tasks far too soon for my parents' belief. So I took to reading novels for my own pleasure and enlightenment: Georgette Heyer to begin with, but soon moving on to Iris Murdoch, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, JP Sartre, ... and then as I lived at home while at university the habit continued.Richard Lindner: Marcel Proust (image from here)
I studied literature as part of my degree: English, French, and German, so kept reading. Up in my bedroom the discipline of both having to be at home and 'obviously' studying gave me the time to complete A la recherche du temps perdu - something I would certainly not be able to do now, although I did get the complete translation on the kindle recently (foolishly) thinking I should try to read it again, but of course in English this time.
Then I taught English and Drama for a short while before eventually finding myself in publishing and having to read for a living! Promoted from fox terriers, I was producing non-fiction books for children - then teaching others to publish educational texts.
I am still insatiably curious, so keep absorbing non-fiction - there is a never-ending stream of subjects and opinions. The Internet and the wondrous Wikipedia have meant that we don't have need of so many reference books, but finding the answers to quick questions I find also throws up further paths to follow, needing more detailed explanation - and the purchase of delightful amuses-bouches such as the Oxford Short Introduction to ... series.
I am enthralled by so much brilliant fiction, although I have not read any language other than English for many years now - translators are so accomplished, and underrated, and so many translations are available.
As readers we live in such fortunate times - we should never waste a moment when we could be reading. So much to read, and so little time, ... I must stop wittering on and get back to my books.