Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Bookworm makes her confession

Bookworm makes her confession

Lucy Mangan
Kenton Theatre

LUCY Mangan’s new memoir is a joyful exploration of the children’s books she loved — about 52 in total, which she has read over and over again.

Familiar with her entertaining and well-crafted Guardian columns, I was aware she was a self-confessed “bookworm” — as per her book’s title — and she easily communicated her love of reading, believing it made her an independent child whose attitude was “get money, read books”.

“You celebrate books you love and skip lightly over or leave out the ones you don’t,” interviewer Daniel Hahn commented, which led on to how her father introduced her to his favourites and when these were mingled with other classics it produced her own personal mix.

Lucy shared her youthful delight at receiving WH Smith book tokens, specifically on one occasion for an academic prize, and described her mother’s reaction when they were exchanged for “inappropriate” Just William books.

Daniel touched on the inclusion of lesser known authors, as well as mentioning the chapter devoted to Enid Blyton.

There was some audience involvement in the discussion about how the Enid Blyton loved by children does not survive into adulthood and whether we should apply modern sensibilities or ever view them again from a contemporary perspective.

She spoke amusingly about her seven-year-old son not following in her footsteps and her big hope that she will finally catch up on reading when she retires.

With no excuses for the books that didn’t appeal to her (any featuring talking animals), Lucy expressed her enthusiasm for the passions we develop for books as children and the world of imagination it opens up for us. Although I would have liked to have heard more about familiar books, and unlike Lucy I do cry when reading, I agree with her sentiments.

As someone who consumed books as a child — and still do given the chance — I can understand the concept that life can be an interruption to reading.

So if I want to get a nostalgic hit for the books I read, I’ll just have to read Lucy’s book.

Gráinne Harling

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