End of the working week – but certainly not the end of My Life in Books! We’re keeping going right through til Monday, and there are some really brilliant bloggers still to come – including, of course, today’s pair. Do keep commenting about the books you’ve read, or now want to read!
Danielle writes A Work in Progress, and has been blogging for an amazing seven years. She also has the longest blog-link list of anyone I know, and the lovelist profile image.
One of my favourite childhood books is Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, about three orphaned girls taken in by an eccentric explorer and his niece who dicover the meaning of life, love and family through ballet. I was quite tomboyish as a child and always wanted to learn ballet. There was something so romantic about it and I would enviously watch as my neighbourhood friend went to her ballet lessons. However, the book itself dealt with a lot of adult themes such as the loss of family, financial worries, the sacrifices involved in the pursuit of dreams and how values change as you grow up.
Danielle: I do come from a family of readers, though I seem to have surpassed the rest of my family in terms of having a serious book addiction. I read far more books throughout the year and I seem to acquire them faster than anyone else in my family. Although I don’t recall being read to (I must have been read to as a very small child), my mom always took my sisters and I to the library, which is probably where my lifelong love of libraries began. My mom also worked in an elementary school library and would occasionally take me with her to work, which was always a special treat. She would often bring home books to share and I still have vivid memories of some of them.
One of my very favorite books as a child is one I owned, however. I would spend hours poring over Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? Although there is text, it was the illustrations that set my imagination in motion. Inside the pages of this book is a city teeming with life. Each building depicted is a cutaway so you can see inside and imagine all the different people and the jobs they do and the places they go. The book is so colorful and with so many small details it every time I would look at it there was something new to see in the pictures.
Danielle: Not only did I always have easy access to books when I was young, but I was allowed to pick and choose as I liked. I didn’t have a lot of guidance when it came to picking books and this was both good and bad. It was good to be able to choose books based on whim and fancy – whatever simply sounded appealing I would read – but it also meant I missed whole swathes of literature that so many other young adults had pressed into their hands by more mature readers. I wish I could say I had discovered Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice or even Agatha Christie when I was a young adult, but I was too busy exploring decidedly lower brow fiction. It’s probably best not to admit to some of the books I read when I was just starting high school, but one I recall reading over a Christmas holiday and with great relish was a historical novel by Karleen Koen called Through a Glass Darkly. I remember hiding out in my parent’s bedroom glued to my book while other festivities were going on. Not a very refined choice of reading matter but it was a natural progression for me.
Danielle: After I graduated from college and had spent a little time traveling I remember reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. This was a pivotal book in my life and marked a turning point where I put behind me more childish things, and certainly childish attitudes. Maybe because this story chronicles a road trip, it made me feel like the entire world was open to me and anything was possible.
My reading habits have changed considerably since I started reading blogs and writing one of my own. I think part of it has to do with how easy it is to buy cheap books especially when you’ve just read an interesting review (whether it’s glowing or snarky!) I find that I have a waiting list of books I need to read, making me wish sometimes that my choice of books could be more whimsical, as they once were.
Danielle: What a difficult question. How can I choose only one when there have been so many wonderful discoveries in the last five years? I’ll have to give the honor to Wilkie Collins, however, and one of my very favorite books by him, The Woman in White. Gradually over time my reading choices have changed, and in some ways drastically so. I didn’t study literature in college and my reading history has been shaky at best, so I often (even now on occasion) second guess my reading choices. For many years I didn’t read any classic literature at all assuming I wasn’t a sophisticated enough reader to get what was going on or catch subtleties in the story. About the time I started blogging in earnest I decided that I wanted to start reading more classics. He’e been one of my favorite classic authors whose books I can read again and again.
Blogging has definitely changed my reading habits. I am a much more daring reader in some ways, but I am also a more discerning reader now. And I have discovered so many authors and publishers who I think I would not have been exposed to had I not started blogging and interacting with other readers online.
Danielle: Although I am now much more willing to try difficult books, I think I am also a pretty predictable reader in many ways. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is reading books by Georgette Heyer. Her books are pure escapism. I know what I can expect from her work, and sometimes that’s a good thing.