The Books of My Years

The Books of My Years

On his Radio 2 mid-morning show, Ken Bruce has a slot called; The Tracks of My Years. Celebrities select songs that have provided a musical background to their lives. The songs they choose are often from their childhoods and it got me thinking not about the tracks, but the books of my years, so here goes!

It started with Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series, three hardback books with colourful book jackets that my father read to me when I was five or six. What magical, exciting page-turners they are with the Faraway Tree and its ever-changing lands up in the cloud providing endless opportunities for Jo, Bessie and Fanny to fall into adventures. I loved the Land of Birthdays, the Land of Treats and the Land of Do-As-You-Please. I listened in horror as the children and their friends, Moonface and Silky, found themselves in Dame Slap’s dreadful school. Each book has a final story with the Tree and its inhabitants under threat, but I always knew things would work out at the end.

Later, I read the books myself, along with every Famous Five and many other of Enid Blyton’s wonderful stories. I solved mysteries with the Five Find Outers, flew to the Mountain of Adventure, lived on the Secret Island with the four runaways and Daisy, the cow. A torch under the pillow was an essential piece of reading kit.

As a teenager in my second year at Billinge School, a history teacher took us to the cinema (Unit Four at Little Harwood) to see Anne of a Thousand Days. The tragic story of Anne Boleyn evoked a fascination with Tudor History, so I sought out historical fiction at a bookstall on Blackburn market. Jean Plaidy became my favourite novelist for most of my teenage years and her stories engaged my reading interest with tales of the French and English courts throughout some turbulent periods of history.

At sixteen, I read Mist Over Pendle by Robert Neill. This, as I soon realised, is only one interpretation of the story of the Lancashire Witches, but it remains a novel that fired my imagination and led me to visit Barley and Newchurch and to climb the famous hill. I imagined myself as Margery, the heroine, but I also thought long and hard about the character of Alizon Device, the young girl who was brought up in the poverty of the Demdike family. She was later hanged and was, interestingly, the only one who actually believed in the effect of her dark arts.

Nowadays, I read just about everything and I am grateful for the wide range of excellent authors available. If you have some books that accompanied you through your childhood and youth, get in touch through the contact page or by using the email address. I would love to know which novels accompanied you through your tender years.