Book Lovin’ Part 2.

Developing grown up tastes, from the Galaxy to Guernsey.

At eighteen, I tasted Africa with Bryce Courtenay’s . While learning the ropes of a new radio career across the other side of Australia, I fought hard for Tom Clancy’s underdogs. I jumped at wall shadows reading Stephen King while huddled beneath my quilt. From the cocoon of my first double bed, I championed justice with John Grisham; feeling righteous when his characters prevailed. In reading popular fiction, whenever there was triumph, I felt a smidge of it rub off on me via book immersion.

I bawled, when Jo lost her sibling in ; though I don’t have a sister to start with. by Barbara Kingsolver talks of: ‘, and I am there with the dancers With Jane Austen, I witnessed a literature so intimate that I became entrapped within the pages as if looking on unseen. And, along for the reading buggy ride with Charlotte Bronte, I started searching for my own darkly intelligent and rugged Rochester to be with.

In my twenties, I became enamoured with Ann Tyler and Amy Tan. I wanted to switch to Buddhism after reading wanted to stage an expedition to remotest China to see the places Tan spoke of in. Ann Tyler’s female characters seem so real you could step inside them by opening the pages of or . I still laugh thinking about the hero biting the dog’s ear in John Irving is another beloved author; rendering sad, sweet relationships in ‘and

I was romanced by my boyfriend while he read funny snatches of . Shared books merged into shared lives in a marriage that started almost twenty-eight years ago, and I still love it when he reads bits and pieces from the newspaper or the Internet to me.

There’s a part of Hugh Lunn’s early biography called, , where he whines about his Mum sticking his ears back with Elastoplast. His quiet Dad says: It’s a line that resonates. I felt homesick reading despite having never been to Ireland.

My favourite book of all is . Recently made into a film, it was to be the only work for Mary Ann Shaffer; a librarian and bookseller who devoured books all her life but never lived to see her own publication. The movie was alright, but it left out my favourite parts, the minutiae of her art.

Sometimes when I finish a beloved story, I read the end chapters again to imprint them on my mind. Rereading makes happiness overflow for the rest of that day and sometimes into the next. Invading my senses, some books make me float about content with the world, even when I’m aware that every word was a pure fiction.

Words on pages transport us to other dimensions, so much so we can forget who we are and be someone else for a while. During four months of morning sickness, I read the entire . Even now, with a cold, I make a sleeping nest and dip into for the fourteenth time. Surrounded by soft old cloth hankies, my nose drips like a tap, yet I’m as fleet-footed as the elves in my imagination. When sick, there’s no better medicine than escapism.

I was present, shaking beside and his friends as they fought Voldemort, striving to make the wizarding world right and just, fair and good. I barracked beside them for a decade, slipping the last four books off my children’s pillow and reading while they slept. In a house where four readers hungered for Harry like food, even two copies weren’t enough. Once, I lied to a school, skipping teaching work so I could finish reading the fifth H.P. In Australia this is known as . I spent that day with copious junk food snacks, lounging and attempting to speed read before my son and daughter rushed home to steal J.K. back again. Hogwarts time was precious, it made reading magic.

Reading Matthew Reilly’s had so much exciting, snow-balling action, I barely stopped to eat or sleep, or put the hard back down long enough to shower. Raised on reading, my children were cranky because we missed an author talk with Matthew. Though down with a nasty case of flu, my daughter insisted we were well enough to see Australia’s best action writer, even if we had to take buckets and a box of tissues in with us.

Holidays weren’t rated so much by where we were but the quality of holiday books. I remember luxuriating in , where Geraldine Brooks wrote:When I read these gems I can sense the ocean swirl about my feet, and that’s delicious.

Marcus Zusak’s was another wonderful summer holiday read, dipped into again and again like the surf in an entire week of hazy, lazy warm beach days. Devouring anything by Tim Winton makes me feel as if I’ve always been a beach sun lover, because of his way of making us so familiar with characters it’s as if we know them. Wolfing down the pages of Joanne Harris’s means to savour something lush and warm in wet winter holidays, a rich reading confectionary clad in gold.

Teaching, I find picture books the easiest of all to fall in love with. Reading Dav Pilkey’s to children, they roll on the floor in delight. I recite Babette Cole’s to pupils and they hold their bellies, sore from laughing. I read Ian Falconer’s to little ones who are instantly besotted by a pig with personality plus. Life lessons are delivered seamlessly as her mother says: Olivia gives her a kiss back and says,

There’s something irresistible in loving someone anyway, despite their vast collection of imperfections. I love seeing children lose themselves in a little bit of literature. Even if I live to be ninety, reading to others will count as one of the greatest pleasures I have ever had. Books allow you fall in love with those you’ll never meet; they are soul food. I read to whole classrooms every school week and still don’t know who gets the most exquisite joy from it. Mostly be I expect, but even the most reluctant reader becomes enamoured; that’s when I know I’m doing some good. I’m the conduit and wonderful words work through me.

Reading is one of the greatest loves of my life. I’m a glutton for it and admit to overindulging at times over almost half a century. I love writing just as much; I’ve even loved writing about reading. Reading and writing, writing and reading; I love them both to bits.

My little library and writing room: a messy place where I can go anywhere with anyone anytime.

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Therese Ralston

Therese Ralston

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Writing about the real life, farm life, reading life, birdlife, wildlife, pet life and school life I have in my life. My blog: birdlifesaving.blogspot.com