Today on Saturday on the Couch, Karen Jones continues her story about growing up with a love of reading. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up with part one here.
Books have filled my awkward spaces and empty moments all of my life. I am never alone when I have a book. Even now in a cafe, they can be more interesting than a flesh and blood companion.
At eighteen whilst my friends were dancing on tables in the nightclub, I was curled up on a barstool repelling male advances as I was too busy reading my book.
I realise in retrospect that my love of reading was and still is a mental and emotional escape for me to worlds I may never visit and to times past that have gone and will never come again. They have filled my bleakest moments, and my most wondrous.
They have shielded me from grief after the deaths of those I love. They have nursed me through broken relationships. They have been companions when my own life has needed rest whilst recovering from illness or surgery.
There is a book for every season and every malady. I discovered chewing gum for the eyes escapism in Mills & Boon novels on a visit with my new husband to my in-laws in Melbourne. My Mum in law had shelves full, and in order to escape the monotony of the visit, I read and read, even in the back of the car whilst they were driving. I was very young, realised I’d probably done the wrong thing in getting married to my husband, and so was getting my Clayton’s romance through these books which helped me get through the tedium of those days.
As a young mum breastfeeding my babies in the chilly dark hours I would curl up in my old armchair with my tiny baby and feed them whilst I feed my soul on the latest treasure from our local library. I even looked forward to getting up to feed the babies as I knew what treasures would awaken me. CS Lewis and The Narnia Tales captivated me and still does. I still fondly remember the smell of the babies little downy heads as we snuggled under a rug with the lamplight throwing a cosy gleam. I would read them passages that touched me.
Many years later, when I finally went to university at age 50, I studied Writing and Narrative Studies. It was heavenly. Hearing the be cardiganned and bewhiskered old Professor expounding on Alexander Pope and James Joyce – ahh the bliss. I would hold my breath with joy as my soul just drank in the words and I devoured the pages. I became a library lurker, intoxicated by the smell and colour of shelf upon shelf of books. I discovered the classics again, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I discovered Virginia Woolf and the poetry of TS Elliot. The bliss of all those words waiting to be read and processed into my thoughts. And I finally started writing my own work, hyper-critical of my own attempts but encouraged by my tutors.
And now, I am blessed to be writing book reviews for the Starts at 60 website. I am sent wonderful new books to review. Talk about win, win. I love it, sitting on my verandah with the friendly water dragon nearby, a cuppa and my cat snoozing under the chair as I open up a parcel from the publishers. New book smell. Bliss. Another world to visit, another author to discover. I am content. I even receive vouchers to buy even more books – thank you, Dymocks!