For the love of books...
Editorial from July 2020
I was brought up to believe that television was a complete waste of time. My well-educated parents much preferred us to spend our free time reading or learning – often both at the same time. I’ve written in an earlier edition of Woman Alive about how I struggled to read at first, but once my mum had taught me, there was no stopping me! I devoured books easily in one sitting and have fond memories of hours spent with my head in a book, forgoing the pressing desire for food or even the bathroom, just so I could finish one last chapter – often extended to yet another chapter as I was drawn into the story!
In my early years of reading, I favoured fiction. I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (read our contributor’s review of the 2019 film adaptation on page 42), Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, all of the Judy Blume books, the Sweet Valley books by Francine Pascal and I was enthralled with Enid Blyton’s writing! The Faraway Tree series, the Famous Five series, the St Clare’s series and Mallory Towers were all firm favourites and, even as I write this, I am reminded of many wonderful afternoons getting lost in tales that fuelled my imagination.
As I got older and ran out of my own books to read, I started picking books from Mum’s shelf and became fascinated by fiction based on real-life events. There was a book that sat on the big old bureau in the hallway called Almonds & Raisins by Maisie Mosco. I remember seeing it there for years before I finally picked it up and, when I did, I couldn’t put it down. I found the other books in that trilogy and then sought out the author’s other titles, which follow families of Jewish descent as they leave their homelands to seek refuge in the UK.
One thing you may have noticed in these titles is that none of the authors are black (or male). And so, as I became a teenager struggling with identity, I sought out books by Maya Angelou and Buchi Emecheta. I read about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. I read Roots by Alex Haley, the book that follows the story of generations of an African family who had been enslaved in America, and I wept at the injustice towards people just because of their skin colour – the same colour as mine.
All of these books have informed so much of who I am and my understanding of the world around me. That’s why books are so important, and, as Veronica Zundel says in her column on page 45, so dangerous. If you’re getting tired of screens in lockdown, we encourage you to settle down with a good book. Check out the suggestions in our special #BookBingo (page 41) and share with us the books you will never forget.
Tola-Doll Fisher, Editor
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