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!

11 thoughts on “MY FRIENDS – MY BOOKS

  1. Lovely post, Barbara, I am with you on the books and passing them on. I must take a note of the books you recommend.
    I think kids follow what they see, so it is just normal to pick up a book when everyone else is reading at home – I actually read a book during my first labour – epidural of course, it was the first thing she probably saw in the world.

  2. Wonderful post! I have a seven-year-old with the same name + an eleven-year-old son. We’re leaving for Dublin this Friday, and will be backing books and Nintendo too!

    Like you, my childhood was spent reading books. I’m not familiar with many of the authors you mention. I used to sneak my Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books into bed and read by night light.

    And I also agree books need to be shared.

  3. Thanks to Olive for introducing you! Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Margarite Henry…oh the days of carefree readying. For me-it was anything with horses. My daughter-now grown-wouldn’t read anything except Harry Potter for the longest time.

  4. I like your rules on reading! I have that one about not finishing a book I don’t care for as well, just pass it on. Because usually there’s someone who will LOVE it! And books deserve to be loved! What a great photo of you and your daughter reading. That was a common shared activity in my home as well. Still is, only now just me and my husband reading together. He just finished Eat, Pray, Love! Not his usual genre but he actually liked it a lot.

  5. I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. It was a brilliant concept, and worked so well. Who ever would have thought a dog could touch our emotions like that as a storyteller? The author did a great job with it.

  6. Thanks all for the comments….
    Brigid – respect to you sister… reading during labour! Very impressed. I was too busy cursing and swearing and vowing off sex forever!
    Theresa – lots of great bookshops in Dublin.. leave room for some purchases while you are here. Looking forward to meeting up with you in Avoca!
    Hi Cindy – horses – actually my eldest was the horsey child but unfortunately didnt extend to reading about them , only riding them!
    Hi Karen: you are lucky you have a husband who reads. I have given up on trying to get my husband to explore a book and I have to say that as I do most of my reading in bed he is very good (now) about going to sleep with my light on!!
    Joanne – wasnt Racing in the Rain just wonderful! I loved that book so much.

  7. @Barbara; Thanks so much for the great post Barbara!

    @Joanne, Karen G, Cindy, Theresa, Brigid; thanks for all your comments on Barbara’s post :)

  8. Such a great post! Yes, if we can pass along the joy of reading to our children, they’ll be better for it. My own read nonfiction much more than fiction, but hey, they’re reading!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. A sunshiny weekend in Ireland IS awesome!

  9. Thanks for this lovely post. Love reading about people and their relationship with books.

    And thank God someone knows of Enid Blyton books. I read them all. When my family and I moved to the States when I was younger–no one knew of them and I felt like I had left a friend behind. So this brought back awesome memories.

  10. Ann

    Great post Barbara. My daughter is the only avid reader in my family. When I asked my oldest why he didn’t read much, I was informed it was my fault. When he read the books himself, they were never as exciting and vivid as they were when I read to them. So it seems regularly reading to my children worked in reverse in my family!!!LOL

  11. Lovely post Barbara! Books are definitely for sharing. Haven’t read the three books you recommend – more to add to a growing list. Thanks!

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