Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A bit of a bookworm

I love reading. It is one of my most favourite things to do. I love the way that a book can take you into another world, inside someone else's head, inside someone else's life and to places that you have never been or will never be likely to go. I like the way that they can make you happy, sad, excited, scared, intrigued and fascinated. You will never be bored if you can read and if you have access to a book. You can read for pleasure, to escape, for formal education, to learn something for yourself or to inspire. Sometimes, I get worried about how I will have to time to read all the books in the world that I want to read!

I have enjoyed reading ever since I was a little girl. I remember being in Class 5 and being able to choose my own book from the harder books on the shelf. I can remember standing by the side of my dad's chair reading my school books to him. I remember my mum choosing books to read as bedtime stories to my sister and I. I remember the day that I could choose books that weren't from the children's corner in my local library. I remember going to the library before our summer holiday and carefully picking six books to last me through the week away. I remember getting a bedside light for Christmas so that I could read in bed without disturbing my sister with whom I shared a room. I remember going round to my neighbours and choosing the next one in the complete Nancy Drew series that she had. I remember as a teenager working my way through my auntie's Thomas Hardy collection of which I was allowed any except Jude the Obscure. I remember reading Jilly Cooper's books all the way through studying for my Masters for some light relief. I remember collecting my boxes of childhood books from my parent's loft when they moved house.

My bookcase on the upstairs landing. Each shelf is double stacked.
This is the waiting to be read bookcase.
When I was nine or ten I started a list of books that I read, writing them down each time I finished one on lined paper in my red with white polka dots file. I know that 60-90 books a month was not unusual for me. I wish I still had that list so that I could see what kind of books I was reading. I no longer read that many books a month, too many other things get in the way when you are grown up. In 2008 I did start my reading list back up, I write it in an A5 hardback notebook and I enjoy flicking back through it every so often.

One of the sets of shelves in the living room.
A number of these shelves are double stacked with
my books from my childhood behind.
A few weeks ago Jessica from the fabulous Chronically Vintage wrote this post about her reading habits and answered a set of questions about them. I so enjoyed reading about Jessica's joy of reading and it inspired me to write this post of my own and to answer the set of questions.

My bookcase in our spare room. This has all my
vintage craft books, vintage fiction books and
my modern knitting and sewing  and fashion
history books.
Do you snack while you read? If so, what is your favourite reading snack? 

I tend to read and eat all the time, especially if I am on my own. I eat and read at breakfast and at lunchtime. I don't necessarily snack and read but if I was going to, my preferred snack would be some chocolate. 

What is your favourite drink while reading? 

My favourite drink while reading, indeed my favourite drink is a good cup of tea, in my favourite mug.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? 

The idea of doing anything to my books except for keeping them pristine horrifies me! I don't really even like the spine getting creased unless the book is so large that it is unavoidable. When I am buying a book I go through the whole pile in the bookshop and choose the one with as near perfect a cover as possible. I caused great hilarity at one of my book groups, which runs as a book swap, by buying a copy of the book I wanted to swap from a charity shop so that I didn't have to risk my copy going out into the world and getting wrinkled!

That said, I did do A level English Literature and had to write in my books then. So my copies of Middlemarch by George Elliot, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf do have written notes in them. But only in pencil!

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? 

As you can probably gather from the above answer dog ears or laying a book open flat are big no no's for me. A bookmark every time. Not always the same bookmark though, I like to vary them with the books I read. I think somewhere I probably have my childhood bookmark collection, I always used to get a new one from historic houses and museums that we visited.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both? 

Both! I like many different genres of fiction and tend to give most books a try if someone has recommended them to me. My least favourite are science fiction and fantasy. I always keep an eye on what new titles are coming out, I like reading the book charts and reviews in the Sunday papers and just browsing in book shops. I read lots of social history books, particularly Second World War diaries and books about women's experiences and changing roles. I also enjoy books which cover the 1920's-1950's and I like to read about fashion history.

Are you the kind of person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere? 

I can stop anywhere but I prefer to stop at the end of a chapter. It is rare that I don't do that, it probably only happens if I am reading in bed and am too tired to get to the chapter's end.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you? 

I wouldn't do anything which would damage a book but I have chucked one across the sofa or to the bottom of my bed if I am irritated. This is most likely to occur when I find the ending of a book unsatisfactory. I don't like to be left hanging, I like a proper ending!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away? 

I would like to say yes as it is always good to expand your vocabulary but actually, no I don't. If I can guess or it doesn't detract from the sense of the story then I probably wouldn't stop to look it up.

What are you currently reading? 

I am currently reading a non fiction book A Home Front Diary 1914-1918 by Lillie Scales. The last few books I have read are The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller, When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant, Ravenscliffe by Jane Sanderson, Last Chance Saloon by Marion Keyes and Poor Cow by Nell Dunn.

What is the last book you bought? 

It wasn't just one book! I had a couple of gift vouchers for Waterstones so I went and had a lovely happy time looking at everything and then making my selection. I love being in a book shop, I find it so relaxing and I love gift vouchers because they are completely guilt free shopping! I only bought one fiction book, the rest are social history.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one? 

When I was younger I would often have two or three books on the go at once. Now though I only really read one book at a time. I might have a fiction book that I am reading and a non fiction book that I am dipping into now and again.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read? 

I read all the time, whenever possible so I don't really have a favourite time to read. I like to read in the bath, in bed, on the sofa and on an old leather chair of my parents that we have in our spare room. My other favourite place to read is in my parent's cosy little summer house in their garden.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones? 

I would say that I read more stand alone books but I am not against a series if I find one that I enjoy. For example; Philippa Gregory's books on the Wars of the Roses are a series but can be read and enjoyed as individual books. I really enjoyed Philip Pullman's Northern Lights series.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over? 

This is a really difficult one. I think if someone was to tell me the kind of book that they liked to read I would have no problem recommending one but I don't have a particular favourite that I would always recommend. Some authors whose books I would always read include Sarah Waters, Margaret Forster, Penelope Lively, Andrea Levy, Pat Barker, C J Sansom, Kate Morton, Kate Mosse, Joanne Harris, Maggie O' Farrell, Sebastian Faulks, Tracy Chevalier and Patrick Gale.

How do you organise your books? (By genre, title, author's last name, etc.) 

I order my books in several different ways. My social history books are ordered by time period and also in the order that I have read them. My knitting books are all together as are my sewing books. I separate out children and young adult's fiction and they are arranged by author. Classics all go together, by author. Then with my fiction books I order them by author and then by who I think they would get along with! That isn't based on anything other than a strange gut feeling that this sort of book would like that sort of book if they met each other! Occasionally my books are ordered only by where I can manage to get them to fit on an already packed shelf!

I really enjoyed thinking about my reading habits to answer these questions and to write this post. I was also pleased to be able to combine my love of reading with my love of vintage knitting patterns as I went through my collection to find the patterns that featured women reading or with books. Actually, there aren't as many as I had thought that there might be. Plenty of posing with flowers, chairs, umbrellas and random backgrounds but not so many books. A gap in pattern cover styling I think!


  1. What a special joy to learn more about your reading habits and lifelong love for the printed word. I too went through many years as a child where reading 50+ books a month was the norm and where I wrote all of them down. Sadly, like yourself, I no longer have that list, but I bet it would be a blast to see what titles were on there if we could find them now. There would be everything from history tomes to Babysitter Club books, Nancy Drews to Sherlock Holmes and tons of other titles and genres.

    Thank you very much for playing along with fun tag and for mentioning my blog, lovely lady. I really appreciate it and have to say again just how much I adored seeing your answers!

    ♥ Jessica

  2. Thank you so much for you lovely comment Jessica and for sparking the post idea off. I am pleased that you enjoyed reading my answers. I really liked taking the time to reflect on my reading habits and trying to answer the questions in a detailed way. I would of loved to have been able to compare our childhood reading lists!