A Love Affair With Books
Updated: Apr 29
You can't beat settling down with a new book. Or even an old book. I don't mean the Holy Bible, I mean that dog-eared paperback you keep going back to. Can you imagine a world without books? Exactly
This is one of the tiny bookshelves in my office at home. It's quite the mixed bag, swinging from Victorian engineering to Vogue
Somewhere, in a messy drawer, lurks my old Kindle. I was quite excited when I bought it, thinking of all the space I'd save in my suitcase when I went on holiday. I'm a bit special; too tight to pay for hold luggage I've always gone away with a fit-to-bursting hand luggage case, even on a week-long trip. Because I have spinal arthritis, I can't manage a proper suitcase on my own anyway - me hauling a giant suitcase up a kerb or onto the belt at check-in would be like a person without crumbling vertebrae lifting a cow. I've shoved paperbacks in my jeans, up a jumper, up other people's jumpers and rather than cram in another pair of shoes I would always reach for another book. So, the Kindle. I took it on one holiday and I hated it. Could not get on with it at all, despite its convenience. There is nothing like a real book, just like being fed through a drip is nothing like sitting down to a three-course dinner and, yes, I can vouch for this through experience before anyone has a go at me for joking about being on a drip.
I went back to books immediately, as many other avid readers found themselves doing. I've inherited the same love of browsing charity shops for books as my dad has - being very ill and subsequently incredibly broke will do that to you - so I tend to give him a list of books to look out for when he's browsing the shelves for some elusive London Transport bus book from 1936 (he's a bit niche, is my dad). When I lived in Brighton I'd go to one particular street every two weeks to browse a plethora of charity shops, knowing that if I didn't like a book I'd only have spent £1 on it, and I'd donate it straight back. When it comes to my birthday or Christmas, I'll ask for new books like a normal person and it brings back all those warm memories of opening gift-wrapped books as a kid. You just can't beat it.
As a child I'd beg my mum to take me to the local library every fortnight after school so I could choose the maximum number of books I was permitted to take home then spread them out on my bedroom floor and decide in what order I would read them. The library is where I first discovered Judy Blume's 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret', Virginia Andrews' 'Flowers in the Attic' and Jilly Cooper's 'Riders', which I hid under my bed so my mum wouldn't find it. Now I'm an adult I realise she probably came upstairs and read it while I was at school. Later I'd devour Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City' series; those books would inspire me to go to San Francisco a few years later.
I'll save up my books and a few times a year I'll send a bunch out to friends who I think might like them or pass them to an animal charity shop (where invariably I will walk out with five more). I did write my own book a few years back - well, I've written two. Three if you include a weird sex manual I was asked to turn my hand to many moons ago, but in general, I don't. My memoir, 'Mostly Cloudy With Some Bright Spells' is a bit bonkers; some readers were convinced it was fiction as the things that have happened to me sound so far-fetched, most people who read it laughed, all of them cried and one left such a spiteful review full of weird lies about me that I hope her feet started growing back into her ankles, her hands into her wrists, and finally, her head into her neck so she may never be able go and buy a book, open a book or read a book ever again.
In this section I'll be talking to renowned authors about their writing processes, their favourite books and pertinent questions about their personal lives, because let's face it, we're all nosey and there's no point in pretending otherwise. You'll also have the chance to win their books, too. I'll chat to interesting folk who don't write but do read, because recommendations and revelations are always welcome. If it's alright with you, I'll also be talking about the books I've loved over the years. We've never had more time to read (unless you're a nurse, right?) so to kick things off, here's a link to mine. If you'd like a copy, I've got a shitload of them at home I can send out for less than the Amazon cover price (and I'll make £2 more than I do through Amazon, so you know) although they *might* be the ones with the glaring mistake on the front cover. You never know, they might be worth a fortune one day...* *obviously won't be worth anything 'Mostly Cloudy With Some Bright Spells' by Juliette Wills shorturl.at/fvAR9