Do you spend most of your time indoors? Feel unsettled when your reading time is disturbed? Would you be happy to live your life in the pages of books? All these are signs you might be a bookworm. The happy news is you’re not alone.
Lucy spent her childhood reading, aided by her Dad and chided by her Mum. Here she runs chronologically through her childhood reading, giving us information about books she remembers, reflections of reading and hilarious anecdotes about how people reacted to her book addiction.
A warm and witty memoir, Bookworm will make you desperate to curl up with a pile of old paperbacks and read. If you needed an excuse, that is …My hobbies include:
- Amassing books
- Browsing second hand bookshops
- Talking about books with my equally bookish friend Christina over afternoon tea/bookshop shelves/Twitter as possible.
Bookworm is a treat wrapped up in a delight. As a teenager, Lucy Mangan’s column in the Guardian weekend magazine assured me I was not the only person who would rather hide with a second-hand Puffin than socialise. I loved the recurring anecdotes about Lucy’s bookish behaviour, and about her very Northern extended family.
Bookworm works for me on three levels:
- Discussion of favourite books
- Reflections on reading
There is no snobbery. Sometimes these memoirs feel more like a run through of the schools and libraries 100 most approved books than a reflection on genuine childhood reading. As a 9 year-old, for example, I read The Hobbit, and the first part of Lord-of-the-Rings. To say this alone exaggerates my childhood literary tastes, because yes I read Tolkien fairy early, but I went through my Sleepover Club stage the same year. Bookworm shows that young readers enjoy a range of books at different times, and that is healthy.
The memoir is well written. As well as painting a vivid picture of her family, it situates Lucy’s childhood reading in the context of the 1980s. What state was her local library service in? Her school library? Given recent cuts to libraries and school library budgets, these discussions need to be opened, and the first place to start is with how people benefited from them in the past.
Lucy’s reflections stem from her memories, but go deeper into what reading means at different times in our lifes. Reading for solace. Reading to recognise ourselves. To experience adventure, to binge on words and to think more deeply about the world. This is what non-bookworms fail to understand – reading is about so much more than holding a book.
I enjoyed Bookworm because I related to it, and for the wide selection of children’s books discussed. It is an enjoyable memoir, and I hope it will give other people the urge to amass books.
Bookworm by Lucy Mangan
Square Peg – Penguin Random House
Huge thanks to Square Peg for sending a copy in exchange for honest review.