Barbara Scully is a freelance writer and fulltime home maker in South Dublin. She blogs from Her Kitchen Table, writes articles which are occasionally published and personal essays which are occasionally broadcast on radio. She would like to be able to drop the word occasionally from her bio! You can follow Barbara on Twitter which she is Aurora111.
There is little that warms my heart as much as seeing my girls tucked up in bed with their nose in a book. When we go on holidays they always pack a couple of books, along with the Nintendo of course. Life is all about balance and as long as they read, I have no problem with them playing computer games (says she who spends a scary amount of time on Twitter and blogging!!).
I have always read. Books have been wonderful companions through all stages of my life. The first books I can remember reading on my own are probably Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. Although quintessentially very English, there were lots of parallels in my own childish life of the time. I grew up in Blackrock in a normal estate of uniform semi detached houses. But by scaling a wall in the adjoining field belonging to Blackrock Rugby Club we had access to the grounds of many of the very large houses on Monkstown Road. During summer holidays we would disappear for hours, exploring orchards and in one case a maze, the highlight being getting a chase from one of the gardeners. Wonderful adventures.
There are two of my very favourite books from my childhood now in my daughter’s bedroom – The Turfcutters Donkey by Patricia Lynch and When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson. They are like old friends waiting to be discovered again.
As I a young adult I have a very clear recollection of commuting on the train into the city with my head stuck in the latest Jackie Collins. I can’t really say that at that stage her stories mirrored my life in the way Ms Blyton’s used to. But her lurid descriptions of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll I am sure added to my general education. I do remember getting so involved in her books that I almost missed my station regularly. I also seem to remember that I would often sense another pair of eyes reading over my shoulder – much to my embarrassment.
My house is full of unread books. Unread because I passionately believe that when I am finished a book I should pass it on. I have a group of friends and my mother (no doubt from whom my love of reading comes) with whom I share books all the time. I hate the thought of a book, which has been read, languishing on a shelf never to be opened again. Books bring such joy they should be read and then passed on.
My other commandment regarding books is that life is too short to waste time reading a book you don’t like or are not enjoying. Commandment one then applies – give it up and pass it on.
But books that I have really loved are many, but among my all time Top Ten would be the following:
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – pure escapism and joy.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – you don’t have to love dogs but it helps for this great story, told by Enzo the dog!
The Shack by William Paul Young – if you have a spiritual bent this is a beautiful read.
Anything by Elin Hilderbrand to bring me back to Cape Cod and Nantucket! Great summer reading.
A friend asked me recently how do you encourage your child to read? I don’t know the answer to that. My children have all seen how much I love books and of my 3 girls, 2 read all the time and the eldest doesn’t. But when thinking about children and books I always think of Irish broadcasting legend Gay Byrne who every year on the Late Late Toy Show gave a little speech about how important it is to introduce your children to books. “Give a child the gift of reading and they have a friend for life” he used to say – or words to that effect! I did try Gay, honest I did. And I suppose (as a certain Mr Loaf used to say) 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!
The photo is of yours truly and my youngest, Mia (9) heads in our books as we wait at the Airport!