Why Books are my Bag
I’ve always loved books; I was one of those kids who could generally be found in the school library or in my bedroom, with my nose firmly between the pages of a paperback. But with the whole Books Are My Bag thing, I decided to have a long, hard think about exactly why I love books – both as a faux-grown-up and as a younger reader.
So, here goes…
- Escapism. I’ve always read – everything from comics and RPG rulebooks to books about insects and fantasy novels. My childhood memories of Marvel comics certainly informed my reading tastes later in life; I was always looking to escape and imagine myself as something other than I was. However, the escapist thing really came into its own when my parents were splitting-up. That was the period where I read most voraciously and probably nailed my colours to the wall as a fan of fantasy. Life at home was pretty dreadful and books gave me an exit to other worlds and allowed me to inhabit other people. It allowed me to leave all the bad stuff behind.
- Company. You’re never alone with a book. You’re surrounded by friends and can immerse yourself into a story so much that you’re almost part of the narrative. This really came to be important to me when I split up from my son’s mother and found myself living on a houseboat in the middle of a river with little or no signs of life around me. Without the intelligence or know-how to rig up my DVD player, I fell into the comfort of books, reading as much as I could, whenever I could. I think it was during this period that I made some of my bigger leaps in terms of trying out new stuff. But, whatever I was reading, each book gave me a new set of friends and a new story to get lost in.
- New ideas. The best books for me are the ones that have something to say. That’s not to say there’s no room for the lighter stuff, but I like books to challenge me and maybe make me think of things beyond my comfort zone. Books are supremely valuable in this way, because you find yourself – no matter temporarily – having to assume the mind-set of someone who might have completely different views on life to yours. In my idealistic way, I have a notion that if we could all fully understand how the people we don’t relate to think, we might get a step closer to solving our problems with each other.
- Spreading the word. There’s that lovely, but slightly bitter, moment when you turn someone on to a great book. Lovely, because you know you’ll be able to yap about it at a later date and bitter because you’re slightly envious of all those experiences they’re going to have that you’ve already been through, with the characters and the story. But it’s a great thing to be able to point someone at a great book and welcome them ‘into the club’.
- Telling tales. For me, there’s no better thing than reading my son a bedtime story – and I’m dreading the time he gets too old for it! I’ve found some new and brilliant books just through doing this and I always look forward to snuggling up with him, putting on my best narrator’s voice and starting that first page. I like doing the character voices too, but that’s because I’m a show-off.
I’m going to be joining a load of other authors across the UK on October 11th in banging the booky drum and letting folk know why we do what we do, as part of the Books Are My Bag campaign. If you’re in the Kentish area, I’ll be at Little Mouse Books, from 10 o’ clockish. Be good to see you there!