Wednesday, July 27, 2005

From the Chocolate Box - Imaginary Worlds

As a child books were the door to imaginary worlds. I was never a great reader, I had always struggled. At age 10, I had my eyes checked and I needed glasses. From that point on reading I never looked back. Going to other places, lands and worlds, traveling in time and space. I could be anything or anyone. The range of experiences in books is unfathomable. I was able to experience the evacuation during World War II in Goodnight Mr. Tom. The Swiss Alps in Heidi and the many and varied experiences of Anne of Green Gables.

Once I became an avid reader my Mum kept me in a regular supply of books. On the summer holidays she took me into the city to Haddon’s Bookshop in London Court. I think this is where I developed my love of bookshops. We bought half a dozen books – they were meant to last the whole summer holidays. They barely lasted two weeks.

The library was a favourite haunt in my childhood. When we first moved to Victoria Park the library was at the end of our street. I visited on a weekly basis. When the library moved to a new larger location, it was still within walking distance from home. There came a time when I had read most of the books in the children’s section, Mum had to sign permission so I could have access to the Young Adult and Adult sections of the library.

My parents never censored my reading, that isn’t to say that my reading material was never censored. I went to a Catholic high school; our class had silent reading time in place of singing practice. Most of us brought books from home to read.

On one particular occasion I was reading the Thorn Birds – my mother knew this; she had bought the book for me. I can’t remember exactly what happened, what I do remember is that one of my classmates had my book and was reading a love scene and giggling. The teacher supervising the class confiscated the book. My Mum had to come up to the school to collect the book as they wouldn’t return it to me. My mother was told that the book was not appropriate reading material for school. Mum said she didn’t censor my reading and neither should they.

Nothing more was said about my choice of reading material, but there was a note sent home with all students instructing that only books from the school library were permitted in silent reading time. The school library’s range of reading material was less than stimulating. This experience of censorship didn’t stop me from reading what I wanted; I just read those books at home.

Nowadays I read almost anything. My favourite genres are biography, fantasy and psychological crime novels. Nick Bantock is without a doubt my favourite author, my signed copy of Griffin & Sabine my most prized possession.

There is nothing better to escape the everyday stresses of life, than to retreat into the world of books.


At 4:50 AM, Blogger Karen said...

Wow, Megan, amazingly I had teh exact same experience! When I was in sixth grade the school librarian did the same thing--I can't even rmember now what book I read.My mother responded similarly, and books are still my best friends today. Isn't that sad? Have you read the Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd? It's one of my favorites!


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