Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Non-Fiction
5*s

How can any bookworm resist this delightful mix of reminders of childhood favourite books and funny self-deprecating humour of a woman whose life has been shaped by them? Not me!

Lucy was a bookworm from the word go, she remembers the familiar The Hungary Caterpillar with his holes with the same affection she recalls Sugarpink Rose, written by Adela Turin and Nella Bosnia and published by a 1970s feminist collective, this book sadly didn’t appear on my bookshelf  but I now wish it had. Visits to the library, sitting quietly reading under the benign eyes of various women as her mother ran her gynae clinics all are bought to life, a story of an era as well as a story of the books that Lucy sought out in each destination.

In the introduction the author proclaims of her childhood books:

They made me who I am.

And I feel the same way. Would my own past be the same if it hadn’t spent hours exploring lives of fantasy and of hard reality, and those particular books that came on the journey to becoming an adult with me, must surely have altered the person I am? Through the book which provides the reader with a light touch to the history of children’s publishing, the author explores some key books – those where she had her own personal light-bulb moments, proving that books can and do expand the mind, even if they are flights of an author’s imagination but as Lucy Mangan tells us:

You hear a lot about books expanding the mind – less gets said about its occasional usefulness in battering your expectations of life down to manageable proportions. But it really ought to be credited with both. High hopes are the thief of time and contentment.

Yes, not only does this book appeal for the sheer nostalgic value, the author being only a few years younger than me seems to have had a pretty identical pile of books to read as well, but it is the first book this year that has had me laughing out loud at the humour that winds itself around my favourite subject. The other plus of reading this book having been born in same era, is that there is that recognition of a time that will never return. After all I think those of us born in the Seventies were left to our own devices a whole load more than any generation that followed us and these glimpses of that lost time are now even more firmly linked to the books that I read.

As this is a book about books, and even better many of the books that guided me through childhood to emerge into the big wide world I should probably tell you what to expect. The book is structured chronologically so we have the picture books, early readers, school and the slightly longer books with chapters via a pleasant detour through the Puffin Post, onto those classics such as the Railway Children and through to pre-teens (who most definitely had not been invented in the early eighties) to Judy Blume before we launch into books with rude bits in them, followed by the marketing dream Sweet Valley High before easing us into adult fiction.

The books are numerous, the author’s natural delight at most of the books not at all at odds with those natural prejudices which somewhat dictates our choices. There are descriptions of those moments where the passing of a bookworm’s chief enjoyment onto the next generation with mixed results with all those milestones that accompany us through childhood made this an absolute delight to read.

I will leave you at the ending where yet again  the author exactly mirrors how I feel, she was writing this book for me!

Adult reading – by which I mean reading adult books at a roughly adult age – is different to reading children’s books at as a child. It is still my favourite thing to do, it still absolutely necessary to me, I still become fractious and impatient if I do not get my daily ‘fix’ – but the quality of the experience is different. I do not get absorbed as easily or as fully. I am more pernickety.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Random House UK for providing me with an advance review copy of Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading. I could honestly spout on about this book for ages, it was a brilliant read and one where I hadn’t got to the end of the first chapter before I pre-ordered a copy of the hardback to delight me in the future too and for ease of referring to the list of books helpfully compiled at the end.

First Published UK: 1 March 2018
Publisher: Square Pegs
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Non-Fiction – Memoir
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 14)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

So onto the good stuff! At the moment I am reading A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill the very first of the Dalziel and Pascoe stories first published way back in September 1970!



Blur
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Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel investigates murder close to home in this first crime novel featuring the much-loved detective team of Dalziel and Pascoe.

Home from the Rugby club after taking a nasty knock in a match, Sam Connon finds his wife more uncommunicative than usual. After passing out on his bed for a few hours, he comes downstairs to discover communication has been cut off forever – by a hole in the middle of her forehead.

Andy Dalziel, a long-standing member of the club, wants to run the murder investigation along his own lines. But DS Peter Pascoe’s loyalties lie elsewhere and he has quite different ideas about how the case should proceed. Amazon

The last book I finished was Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan which will be published on 1 March 2018.

Blurb

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 with, 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. Amazon

Next I plan to read Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer which will published on 22 February 2018.

Blurb

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more…

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar-and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out-she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby-maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path? NetGalley

So what do you think? Do any of these titles take your fancy this Valentine’s Day?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (February 6)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Every now and again as any good bookworm knows you spy a book that you know you simply HAVE to read. My excerpt this week comes from one such book – Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan which will be published on 1 March 2018.

Blurb

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 with, 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. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

As this is a non-fiction book it seems fitting to take the first paragraph from the introduction

I still have all my childhood books. In fact, I have spent some of my happiest hours in recent months arranging them on the bespoke bookcases I had built under the sloping ceiling of my study for their ease and comfort. I may no longer imagine them, as I did thirty years ago, whispering companionably together at night when I have gone to bed, but I love them still. They made me who I am.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once I got over my jealousy that Lucy Mangan not only has her childhood books, but that they get to sit on bespoke shelves, I concentrated on that very last sentence of the first full paragraph – that is how I feel about my childhood books too.

So what do you think? Do the titles mentioned in the synopsis bring back vivid memories to you too? Would you like to read on?