How I became a reader

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Portswood library, Southampton

I have always read, though with gaps. Now, I read a lot. This is how I started.

At primary school I had a girlfriend(!) and during reading classes we used to hold hands under the bench. Love+reading = Love reading?

At home we would get comics delivered, on a Thursday I think, including Tiger, Eagle and Bunty (for my sisters). My favourite stories were Roy of the Rovers from Tiger and The Four Marys from Bunty.

Our local library was in Portswood. On the left was the children’s library, on the right the newspaper reading room, and straight ahead the grown-ups’ library. I can recall borrowing Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series, Frederick Marryat’s The Children of the New Forest, and a picture book about evolution which may have influenced my lifelong atheism.

My favourite book that I owned was The Boys Companion which was 600+ pages of information relevant to boys – games, hobbies etc. You can get old copies of this on the Net and I like this description of it on Amazon – “This is a wonderful book detailing all sorts of manly activities for chaps. Girls had not been invented when this book was written!”

My dad was a member of a book club which produced compendiums of abridged novels, usually three or four in each thick volume. I loved these stories which were mainly adventure, war and cowboy stories.

I have no recollection of my parents ever reading to me, so my lifelong interest in reading is entirely due to my own efforts!

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