Casting my mind back to the early eighties, I remember when ‘the book club’ people used to bring a pile of books into the foyer of my junior school.
Now, I was never a spoilt child, I rarely had the latest trends, my parents mainly replying to my wants with a ‘I’ll make you one’, (a Care Bear cuddly toy – Mum), or, ‘you don’t need a climbing frame, here’s 20 yards of rope, I’ll tie it from the apple tree to next doors fence!’ (- Dad). So I generally just made do. One of my most vivid memories was the slide Dad knocked up in the shed, made from an old white MDF dressing table. It lasted probably ten minutes because the splinters in my ass kind of put me off playing on it!
But, when it came to books, thankfully, that was a completely different story! 😉 So, off home I’d skip with the order form flapping away in my hand, because that day, I knew my parents would say ‘it’s book club time is it? Here you are, have five big juicy pounds, choose whichever ones you’d like.’ Oh the joy!
I was like a kid in a sweety shop, I can tell you! Working out how many books I could order for my five pounds. Now, back in 1980, five quid was a HUGE sum of money for any kid, and the fact that I was getting something that wasn’t home made filled me with utter glee!
The ‘book lady’ used to visit my school probably three times a year, and on every visit, I was one of the rare kids who ALWAYS had the full fiver to spend. My parents obviously knew just how important reading was, and dished out the maximum spend allowed, no questions asked, and no threats of ‘making me one’.
So these exciting moments of my childhood have stayed with me. I can vividly remember receiving my little bundle of books, held together with two large elastic bands in a cross fashion. Even then, I was greedily sniffing the newness, rushing home to get stuck in to Roald Dahls’ The Twits and Revolting Rhymes.
As I got older, obviously I progressed to longer stories with less pictures. And then, one day on the book table at school, I discovered a series of books called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’. Oh. My. God. 😮
That was it for me, a book that you don’t read IN PAGE ORDER?!! What IS THIS?!! Well, all I can say is, I rarely left my bedroom! My Mum was like, ‘Lisa, it’s a glorious day, why don’t you go outside and play, get some fresh air?’ Um, I’m in the middle of a great adventure at the moment, so maybe later. Or not.
As I headed into Senior School, my tastes changed somewhat. Sat in an English class one morning, circa 1986, one of the lads in my class was discreetly reading, holding the book under the desk. He was absolutely engrossed. ‘What ya reading?’ I asked, with an air of (fake) disinterest. (I didn’t want him to think I was genuinely interested, that just wasn’t cool!) ‘Oh, you won’t like it, it’s gory and horrible’ he replied.
I WANTED THAT BOOK. That very weekend, I visited my local library and borrowed A STACK OF HORROR from the adult section, and I was converted into a James Herbert fan overnight. Horror was now my bag.
That’s my story of my earliest feelings of book-love, and it’s stayed with me all my life, and I thought I’d share it with you 😀
What’s your earliest bookish recollection as a child? I’d love to hear your stories!