Reading and Writing

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The more that you read, the more things you will know.

— Dr. Seuss

Someone asked me recently when did I discover my love for reading and books.

To be honest, I don’t remember books being part of my life when I was very young. I would love to say that there was a favourite bedtime storybook, but there wasn’t. My first contact with books happened when I started school at the grand old age of five.

I can still feel the excitement I felt when the teacher handed out our reading book. There, in bold print, on the front cover was my name. I was tickled with delight that out of all the girls’ names in my primary one class, it was mine on the cover. From that point onwards, I loved reading. I adored that the words on the page came together to tell a story, albeit a very short story of few words in my formative years.

I was won over to reading by seeing my name in print in my first reading book.

Books became my gift of choice on my birthdays and Christmases. Ladybird books were popular at the time and I had a little collection of fairy tales and fables, with Cinderella being one of my favourites. I could quite happily sit for hours on end re-reading the stories, almost to the point where I could recite them verbatim.

Infrequent visits to our local library were a highlight for me. I used to drive my mother and siblings mad by taking so long to choose my three books. So many books called to me and it hurt my heart to only be able to take three home at any given time. I also have vague recollections of a mobile library visiting our school, not sure how often it came, and have the distinct feeling these extra books made up the deficit in my life.

Fairy tales ignited my imagination for fantasy, leading me into the world of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the Chronicles of Narnia. Followed swiftly by The Hobbit, and an introduction to wizards, dwarves, elves, dragons and Gollum. These were the books that saw me through the challenge of growing up in the midst of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. A time that was frightening and dangerous, and hard for my little mind to comprehend the violence on my doorstep. To escape the real world, I was more than happy to dive headlong into my books.

When I left home to go to Australia and finally ending up in London, via Manchester — books took a backseat to my real life adventures. However, dealing with a daily commute into central London soon called for my book buddies. Morning and night, I would sit on tube and train cradling a book and escaping the hum drum around me.

Reading may have come in fits and burst during my adult years, with a serious return to reading following a major emotional breakdown a decade ago. Books were a key part of my recovery, and I was more than happy to indulge my pleasure for reading, in particular, fantasy books. I, of course, read the Harry Potter series. But these just ignited my need for more. I was like an addict seeking the next ‘fantasy book’ fix. Bless all the wonderful authors who wrote the books that quelled my heart and revived my soul — Madeleine L’Engle, Rick Riordan, Cornelia Funke, Philip Pullman, Angie Sage and Eoin Colfer.

One of my favourite fantasy series by the loveable and witty Irish writer,
Eoin Colfer.

Now I read a diverse range of genre and include a few self-development books too, alongside a few chick-lit fun reads, punctuated with a smattering of classics.

Reading is key to learning, and it is, I believe, paramount for writers.

Without reading, we are now strengthing our craft. There are two sides to a book; the view of the author, and the journey for the reader. Both are equally important and must be considered. An author who writes without thinking of his/her reader is missing a key part of the puzzle. Reading is fuel for a writer, you expand your imagination, your word base and see how other writers have tackle different challenges/issues, both real or make believe.

Books are written to be read — and Writers need to Read.

So, you may ask what is my all-time favourite book?
My answer is there can never be just one…


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