I have always loved books. In primary school I discovered Enid Blyton and The Famous Five and got lost in the wonderful adventures of four children and their dog and learned about the world outside Australia through the eyes of an English author. Of course Ethel Turner and the Seven Little Australians was another favourite showing me how different life was in 1880s Sydney, where I grew up. Another favourite I didn’t discover until my daughter had to read it for school was Playing Beatie Bow. I learnt about hard times and the closeness of family through Little Women showcasing life in America in the days of the Civil War. The best books were the ones who had sequels or written as a series.
All I wanted for birthdays and Christmas were books. I had older cousins who were working so I felt privileged when they gave me money to enable me to buy yet another book. I was never lonely or bored, even surrounded by five younger siblings. I think if one loves reading you are never bored, as I have found.
As I grew up and started earning my own money, books gave way to music for a time as I loved the Beatles and other artists and bought a stash of records. My reading changed to romance and the historical novels set in England during the days of the smugglers, giving me insight into the struggles of the poorer classes and the artificial lives of the gentry. My sister, my friends and I swapped books opening up even more chances for reading. I was never into the Mills and Boon type romance, I needed to dig my teeth into a strong storyline. If I travelled on a bus or train or plane, I always packed a book or two to read.
Non-fiction books weren’t on my radar, it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that a whole new world of reading opened up. I was taken on armchair travel around the world through the eyes of authors living different lives to the average person. One book that comes to mind is The Hospital by the River by doctors Catherine and Reg Hamlin, documenting their lives in Ethiopia. From there I discovered travel writers and I became an armchair traveller. I didn’t realise how many books there were on walking, cycling, motor bike travel around the world, plus people moving countries and starting new lives. All this was before the internet, now all the books in the world are at my fingertips. I have discovered Kindle, instead of a bookcase of reading material it’s all contained on a device.
My husband only ever read the back page of the paper during his working life, when sport was featured on the back page. Since retirement he now reads more than I do and stressed he never wanted a Kindle, but since I gave him one for Christmas last year I have only heard praise for it. Of course it helps that books are cheaper in the Kindle store and the ease of downloading far outweighs shopping in a store.