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U3A Writing: My Love For Books And Reading

...During one particular journey home at the end of term, when I was 14, I purchased a paperback from the book kiosk at Kings Cross Station. (It was normal for me to do this in order to relieve the monotony of the three-and-a-half hour journey home). The book was the first in the 'Whiteoak' family stories by Mazo de la Roche - the 'Jalna' series.

I started to read it on the train and finished reading it within a day or two of arriving home. Very interesting I thought - a very good read, then looked to see what the next title in the series was, purchased it on my next trip to town, and had read that before returning to school the following week...

Hazel Dracup recalls how she became an avid reader. To enjoy more of Hazel's articles please type her name in the search box on this page.

As a child, I was not a book reader by any means. The only time I would sit down and read a book was when I had one brought as a present. I would read my favourite comics regularly, but not books.

My godmother always brought me a book for Christmas, and such stories as Swiss Family Robinson, Black Beauty and Children of the New Forest spring to mind, but they did not spur me on to read on a regular basis.

Why was this? Possibly it was an act of rebellion - I will explain further.

Between the ages of five and six, I spent four months in hospital with a relapse of the illness I had suffered two years previously. This meant my missing a considerable amount of school time and having to change schools shortly afterwards.

When I did start a new school in Bradford, luckily I was placed in a dass with others of my age group. My mother was determined that I make up for any lost ground and each evening after school would have me reading to her. I can remember reading the Janet and John books at some point.

I absolutely hated these sessions. I didn't mind them at school, but I just hated having to do this at home when I could be playing outside for longer! It was very annoying.

Growing up I would sometimes say, "I'm bored" to my mother. Mum was an avid reader as a child and tried at every opportunity to get me to take reading seriously. "If you have a good book to read you will never be bored," she would say. There are some wonderful stories to be discovered!"

Still I was not convinced.

When I started boarding school at the age of 12, I came across several pupils who were always reading. No, not for me I thought. I would read the occasional novel from the hundreds of books that could be found in the bookshelves in the common rooms at school, but had no intention of reading for pleasure unless there was absolutely nothing else to do!

During one particular journey home at the end of term, when I was 14, I purchased a paperback from the book kiosk at Kings Cross Station. (It was normal for me to do this in order to relieve the monotony of the three-and-a-half hour journey home). The book was the first in the 'Whiteoak' family stories by Mazo de la Roche - the 'Jalna' series.

I started to read it on the train and finished reading it within a day or two of arriving home. Very interesting I thought - a very good read, then looked to see what the next title in the series was, purchased it on my next trip to town, and had read that before returning to school the following week.

On arriving back at school I was delighted to see that there were several books in the 'Jalna' series already in the library. It meant reading the books out of sequence in some cases. I could not wait to read them. In fact I was well and truly hooked. And since that day I have never looked back.

Over time I purchased the whole series and re-read them in the proper sequence, along with lots of other books. There were authors whose books I enjoyed at the time including John Creasey, the "Herries Chronicles' by Hugh Walpole, Jean Plaidy, Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens.

On leaving school I joined the local library and looked forward with eager anticipation to reading each book. My mum couldn't resist saying, "I told you so."

I must admit there was nothing I could say to that comment but to smile. How right she was. Reading has given me so much pleasure over the years. If you have a good book to read you will never be bored. I can definitely endorse that now - better late than never.

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