Posts tagged ‘I Capture The Castle’

April 23, 2012

World Book Night

It’s World Book Night! I’ve been looking forward to this day for ages. World Book Night is a joyful celebration of books and reading and Book Givers will be handing out free copies of one of 25 books within their communities. In addition to this, copies will be handed out in places where accessing books is difficult such as care homes, prisons, homeless shelters and hospitals.

Why is reading important? A recent report  Literacy: State of the Nation found that one in six people in the UK struggle with literacy; a quarter of young people do not recognise a link between reading and success in later life; and men and women with poor literacy skills are least likely to be in full-time employment at the age of thirty. I cannot imagine not being able to read or not being confident in my reading abilities. No matter what real life throws at me, a great novel always provides a means of escape and of transportation to other places, worlds and times. Not to mention how useful these skills are at work and in real life, when dealing with grown up things like banking or politics, or even when doing fun things like using the internet for research.

I’ve been chosen as a Book Giver this year, which means I have 24 copies of my favourite novel, ‘I Capture The Castle’ to give away. Because of the statistics above, I decided to give my books out at the local primary school. I handed out most of them this morning. I think that one of the most important gifts you can give a child is the love of reading. I wanted to give books to parents who perhaps don’t read very much or don’t have time to read like they used to. Just reading in front of their kids will make an impression on them and hopefully help to create a culture of reading in the family. I got a really good reception and it was so great to share my love of this particular book with new people. I hope that some of them love it as much as I do.

So, I’ve given out most of my books ( and I’m going to leave one on the bus on the way into town for serendipity to take) and tonight I’m heading out to two events. The first is a quiz hosted by For Books’ Sake at  Cafe 164 in Leeds. Based in Munro House, Cafe 164 is a lovely, relaxed and informal cafe with great coffee and cakes and is rapidly becoming a particular favourite meeting place. I’m taking a couple of copies of my book here to swap and also some of my own books to give away.

Later, I’m going to the Leeds Brewery-run  White Swan pub for ‘Books, Buns and Booze’, which is being hosted by Leeds Book Club. I’m especially looking forward to more cake eating! It’s going to be a lovely, book-swapping event and there will be lots of folk there that I’ve only met on Twitter, so it will be a good chance to meet some more people in real life. I’m genuinely excited by today, both as a bibliophile and cake lover! I just need to remind myself that I am giving books this year. I need to make sure I don’t come home with an equally large stack of reading material to add to the piles of books already filling my house.

If you get the chance to get involved in World Book Night today, then I really recommend it – and if not, there’s always next year!

January 9, 2012

3 Books

The wonderful Emily at A Mummy Too wrote a post recently about 3 Books – a favourite book from childhood, a favourite adulthood book and finally a favourite parenthood book. I thought it was such a great idea. Finding the time and head space to read anything these days is a challenge, although one that I am doing my best to address. I am presently a member of three book clubs in various guises for a start…which doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m reading more books, but I am chatting to people a lot more about the potential to read more books!

Finding only three books is a challenge, and if you asked me again next year I might give you a completely different set of answers but for now, here goes.

Childhood: My childhood book choice is an Enid Blyton one. Considering how popular she is, it’s something of a foregone conclusion. However, my book is the lesser known ‘The Children of Cherry Tree Farm”, one of a series of books following the lives of four children, Benjy, Rory, Sheila and Penny, who are sent to live on a farm with their aunt and uncle to recover from illness. They meet a hermit called Tammylan who knows all about the natural environment and he teaches them what he knows.

This series of books is far slower than the more adventurous of Blyton’s novels and really seem to exist to extole the virtues of country life, rather than having any major plot. Through ‘The Children of Cherry Tree Farm’ is a description of the British countryside  through the seasons, with many wonderful things and the occasional nasty truth (usually the conflict between nature and farming) to make sure that the image of the countryside isn’t always idyllic.

However, despite the lack of gripping adventurous plot,  it is because of them that I became obsessed with self-sufficiency legend John Seymour. It’s because of them that I have always wanted to keep chickens, and have a list of breeds I would choose. It is because of them that I have an allotment and my own little fruit orchard. It is because of them that I know so many things; bats don’t get stuck in your hair, a hare will jump sideways to stop its scent being found by a predator, the difference between a stoat and a weasel. It may even be because of these books that I ended up where I am today, working for an environmental organisation.

So, although I will read many different Enid Blyton books with my children as they grow older, I do hope that these become a favourite with them too. They made such a big impression on me that I’ve never forgotten as I’ve got older.

Adulthood: I struggled a bit with my second book. Those of you who read this blog regularly, will know that I have two favourite novels – ‘I Capture The Castle’ and ‘War and Peace’. For the sheer reason that I re-read it when I am glum and it comforts me like a cashmere blanket, I am choosing Dodi Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’ here. It is a beautifully written and bittersweet coming-of-age story that I adore. The subjects of unrequited love, growing up with eccentric and difficult family members, struggling for money, the desire for beautiful things and the bloody difficulty of being in that moment, no longer a girl but not quite a woman either, bind together with poignancy and the odd moment of sheer comedy. I know every time I turn to it and read the opening line: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink‘ that I will fall in love all over again.

The difficulty with choosing an adulthood book is that these are my favourites so far. Although they have both been long-standing choices, the beauty of literature is that you never know what you might read next!

Parenthood: This one is even more difficult! My kids love books and I mean LOVE books. It’s like Junior Waterstones at our house and we could probably set up a library. Even though they have so many, we often find ourselves reading the same ones over and over again, something that will be  familiar to those of you with kids. There are many that I can recite without being anywhere near the book itself. Mostly Julia Donaldson ones…

Anyway, the book that I am choosing for this is “My Naughty Little Sister’ by Dorothy Edwards. Although written in 1952 and therefore relatively dated (which means I take the liberty of changing a word or two) I have chosen this book is because it was the first book that we read to Eve that wasn’t a picture book. Originally we were lent an old copy, which we took thinking that she wouldn’t be interested, and she proved us completely wrong by wanting to read the whole thing and we now have the full series. I love that she completely surprised me by being so much more grown up than I’d thought and that she (along with her little brother) shares my love of books.  We still do read lots of picture books, alongside more grown up stories like these, but my husband is already counting down the days until he can introduce them to The Hobbit…

Now it’s your turn. Choose your #3Books and add them to the linky at A Mummy Too !