A lifelong love of reading

I was present the other evening whilst a very young relative opened his birthday presents. Among the plastic car track and Lego he had received two books – one by David Walliams and one by Roald Dahl. He’s a bit young to read them for himself but his face lit up when he opened the parcel and he has been promised nightly readings by his mother. It was delightful to see the next generation of our family enthralled by good storytelling.

The next day I met a colleague at work on the stairs leading to our offices. She was holding a novel so we had a quick discussion about it. The book was “The Skylarks’ War” by Hilary McKay. It’s an award winning children’s book which she was reading to see if it was suitable for her nine year old granddaughter. She highly recommends it and she commented that both her daughter and now her daughter’s daughter are avid readers. She was delighted to see the love of books pass down another generation.

I don’t necessarily believe that everyone has to read in order to be a fully rounded human being but I do find great joy in seeing the love of reading develop and grow in people of all ages.

My father was a contributory factor in my love of reading and he introduced me to a number of genres. I read my first adult fantasy novel from his shelves – “Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien. I need to confess now that I am not a huge Tolkien fan although I do appreciate the place he has in the history of fantasy writing. I soon moved on from him to many other authors and many other types of fantasy.

Since the beginning of the year I have started or finished a few fantasy books, each of which are very different from the others. You may want to try one or more of these :

  • “Interesting Times” by Terry Pratchett – an amusing and slightly satirical view of our world through adventures in the Discworld. This isn’t one of his best, although it is still very good, and if you are new to his work I recommend starting with “Wyrd Sisters” or “Guards, Guards” – they are all very funny and they do count as fantasy.
  • “The Green Man’s Heir” by Juliet McKenna – a fantasy set in the folklore of England with old powers pushing their way into the modern world. I liked this a lot although I think that the novel was a bit flawed in the way in which it tried to combine two narratives. I recommend that you give it a go if you are looking for something a bit different in the fantasy field – I am pretty sure that the author will be writing a sequel too.
  • “The Wise Man’s Fear” by Patrick Rothfuss – a traditional epic fantasy with some great writing. This is the second in a series so you are going to need to start with “The Name of the Wind” and be prepared to give this time as it is long, very long.
  • “The Magician King” by Lev Grossman is also the second in a series but is a very different sort of fantasy. It is sort of a Harry Potter/Narnia hybrid but with grown up behaviour. It is about people from our world who train as magicians and can access other worlds. Start with “The Magicians” for this one to make sense.
  • “Truthwitch” by Susan Dennard – a fantasy novel that I have just started which is set completely in another world where there are all sorts of magic and some witches are very much sought after because of their power. So far I am enjoying it a lot especially as the descriptive writing is very good and I feel that I am immersed in another world.
  • “The Screaming Staircase” by Jonathan Stroud – a novel set in an alternative Britain where ghosts are a reality and there is a need for Psychic Investigation Agencies such as Lockwood and Co. This is the first in a series about the members of this company and I have enjoyed the first few pages.

So there’s a snapshot of my fantasy reading – ghosts, witches, magicians, magic school, alternative worlds, dryads, wood nymphs, epic battles and sapient luggage. With so many worlds to explore it is no wonder that I remain a reader, let’s hope that our new, emerging readers keep the joy they have found in books throughout their life as I have.

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