The chicken pocks itched like mad. Frightened of infection, my friends refused to call. I felt lonely and sorry for myself. The VHS recorder had been invented, but no one had heard of it yet. I had read my Enid Blyton collection too many times.
My mother presented me with a dusty old copy of Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. The blue hardback book didn’t have a front cover or a blurb. My mother explained how the book had inspired her. At seven years old, I felt I was far too grown up to read about a mere five year old child. In the end, she read the opening of the book to me and we discussed the setting and ‘gruffly’ grandfather.
I wondered if Heidi would be safe. I followed the ‘footpath through the green shady meadow at the foot of the mountains’ and thus began my interest in travelling. Absorbed in the book, I stopped complaining about the itching. The book presented a character whose ‘heart was full of gladness’, and I adored the positivity. While reading the book I could smell the sweet smell of the cheese melting in front of the open fire, then I realised my mother had made me some cheese on toast. Reading connected with my senses, and my reading journey commenced.
Written in 1891, Heidi established my commitment to the classics. At seven, I realised a book cover hinted at the promise of a book, but reading the words took me to the actual destination. I discovered: The Secret Garden, Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. Alas, the dusty copy of Heidi fell apart and the innocence was replaced with romances. At thirteen, I was wooed by the brooding Healthcliff. Tempted by Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I told my parents it was on the exam syllabus. At the time, I wondered why they both laughed at me.
Reminiscing about my reading addiction, made me curious about people’s reading. I asked the esteemed book blogger, Anne Williams, which book commenced her reading journey. She explained:
‘Once I grew out of Enid Blyton, I turned to the classics and devoured them, then nearly killed my love of reading by taking a degree in English and finding it impossible to read for pleasure any more – I picked up my all-time favourite, Wuthering Heights, after a ten year drought, moved on to bonkbusters and chick lit, rediscovered the joy of reading, and have never been without a book in my hands ever since.’
I was delighted to find a parallel in our stories. Anne is a prolific reader. I am in awe of the number of books she reads and reviews. Books do not exist until a reader brings them to life, thus I want to present a tribute to readers. I asked Anne to send a photo of Wuthering Heights in her favourite bag along with a tagline. Anne’s Wuthering Heights and my Heidi will launch a new page dedicated to readers, Reader Recommends.
I want to know which books have fed your reading addiction habit. Send a photo of your favourite book, in your bag/handbag and I will display it in my new gallery. It could be the very first book you read, your all-time favourite or one that has influenced you – you decide.
Write a couple of sentences, up to 100 characters, to explain how the book inspired you. Present your book in a handbag.
It is time to celebrate Reader Recommends!