In my last series of posts, Music and Me, I talked about the different types of music that have been a big part of my life over the years. In this series, I’m going to talk instead about authors and their work. And since I am currently halfway through my seventh decade, I’ve called it Seven Ages of Books.
Back in the 1950s, there weren’t that many books around, or at least, not in my childhood home in Birmingham. But that’s not to say that we weren’t all keen readers. My parents were members of a monthly book club and every time I see one of those patterned dust covers in a charity shop, it takes me straight back to Neville Shute or Dennis Wheatley.
Twice a year, for my birthday and at Christmas, I received a book as a present. And many of those books are still on my shelves today: Heidi, Black Beauty, The Water Babies, and Alice in Wonderland. I devoured Enid Blyton books: starting with The Wishing Chair and The Enchanted Wood; moving on to The Famous Five and The Secret Seven; before graduating to ‘Big School’ with Malory Towers.
But the author I remember best is Louisa M Alcott and her books about the March family. The four sisters were so different from one another: sensible Meg; tomboy bookworm Jo (always my favourite); sickly Beth and spoilt Amy. It seemed old-fashioned even when I was a child, but there was something soothing about it, despite or maybe because of-that. When I took my copy of Little Women off the shelf in preparation for today, I found pasted into the front page a certificate telling me I won it as a reward for coming top of the class. I’d forgotten that; another happy memory brought about by a book.