For the love of books
A few weeks back I took my daughter along to the Book Fair at the Townsville Stadium. It wasn’t until I was around such like minded souls, that I forgot how much I loved books. I love the smell and the history that each musty page can hold.
To me, it’s very nostalgic, I grew up surrounded by books.
Literally. A lot of them. We had overflowing dusty bookshelves in our dining room that contained everything from Women’s Weekly recipe books to not one, but 2 x complete A-Z editions of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Clearly I grew up in a time pre-digital technology, therefore the 1987 Encyclopaedia edition was the most current and up to date information I could get my hands on at home.
And you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My parents also had the complete works of both Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson at their fingertips. They could both recite many a poem, remembering each passage and all without skipping a beat. Those memories sitting around our kitchen table hearing them break out into verse always makes me smile from the inside. The first line of ‘The Man from Snowy River’ tends to be on internal replay sometimes I must admit..
“There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around”…
I consider myself so blessed to have been privy to this kind of upbringing. It wasn’t uncommon for all four members of the family to have their noses stuck in a book.
One of my favourite things to do when I was a young girl was to take my book, a plate of Kingston biscuits (a small plate, of course), maybe a glass of milk and sit in the sunroom of our house on the Esplanade. I would lose the better part of a day until either the shadows started to roll overhead or my stomach reminded me what hunger felt like.
It sounds so cliche but I loved losing myself in other worlds and characters. Some definitely more vividly remembered than others. I had an affection for somewhat relatable tales of like minded feminine-based prose like The Babysitters Club or Dolly Fiction.
Although admittedly I never dabbled in babysitting as a tween, but in my imagination it was always super fun. Those kinds of stories seemed to be perfect for the pre-pubescent teen I was, awkwardly navigating between the parallels of fiction and real life drama.
Being at the Book Fair took me back to a time when lounging at the local library for hours at a time was not uncommon for me.
I know my daughter has a similar love of books, which I definitely want to encourage as she grows. Before I had my daughter, the idea of reading to a small person appeared to hold such romanticism. The stereotypical dimly lit, perfectly themed nursery with the rocking chair in the corner, Mum softly motioning forward and back as the little one, sits snugly in the pocket of her arm, with their eyes transfixed on the colours, shape and the comforting sounds of mummy reading aloud.
Not anywhere that I can recall has there been imagery of the way this vision morphs as the child grows from an infant to a toddler. A toddler, so independent that they can not only choose what they would like to read but they go to the ends of their bedroom to find it (quite literally).
Books scattered from one end to another.
And left to their own devices they pick up book after book, opening and closing each one, half recalling the stories from before and half looking at the pages.
I can see my daughter now, her face a myriad of expressions, her voice curious, her breaths big for she has so many things she wants to say. I’ve heard her use inflection and tone, alike the voice she hears in me so frequently. That’s a proud mummy moment right there
To me, this is what the reading and the books are about. To allow the imagination to soar. To let these memory muscles grow and wander in lands of fantasy and make-believe. To run wild and play, embracing the nonsensical and magic of wonder and unrestrained joy.