Last week Edward Picot asked “What are your first/most formative memories of reading and encountering books? Was it in a library, a bookshop, or exploring the bookshelves at home? http://edwardpicot.com/blog/first-experiences-of-reading/.
He was first inspired by Code Poet Mez’s autobiographical account of early reading- which is quoted on the website.
I wrote: In the effort to remember my early reading experiences, I instead remember smells of places: the damp of my grandparents house in Clitheroe, the classroom in my primary school, the camper van in Devon. I can’t remember learning to read or write. I was read to a lot as a child, I love my parents for that. Such a variety – Spike Milligan, Lewis Carol poems and songs. Astrid Lindgren, Joan Aitken, Alan Garner. I also recall my younger brother (who had a strong sense of pathos) reciting from the book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, with a forlorn look on his face. Later we went on long camping holidays and we would be read to in the evenings: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Tolkein.These are some of the books I remember. What I know, is that I learned to read with books designed for the purpose: Janet and John; Topsy and Tim; the ladybird books of fairy stories.
I’m not very good at reading words off the page/screen and I’m a horrible speller. I am a pretty good listener though. Recently I signed up to an audio book club – and find I can “read” all sorts of things I had previously struggled to attend to. Last year I “read” Marx’s The Communist Manifesto for the first time, on the treadmill at the gym, and Emma Goldman’s On Anarchy, while driving 3 times a week to a particularly un-free workplace. Moving my body and eyes as I “read” audio books liberates me to make more connections, to comprehend the layers of meaning and tone.