I’m not bragging, my little boy can hardly be persuaded to pick up a book. He’d much rather be on Forza Motorsport or building Lego. If I could divide the book love out between them a bit more evenly then I would. But they are their own people and that’s just the way it is.
My husband and I were both book worms as kids, but I don’t recall being quite so speedy at reading as my daughter seems to be.
We spent every Saturday morning at the library when I was my daughter’s age, in the town where I grew up. I took a pile home with me at lunchtime and then we returned the following week to either renew or exchange. But in these days of constant access to the internet, youngsters know exactly what the next book in a series by their favourite author is. They aren’t prepared to simply take whatever happens to be on the young adult shelves of the local library.
Maybe schools need to be more up to date with the titles they offer. I know of other youngsters in my daughter’s class who have read every title in the entire school library and have been told that anything else they have is too ‘adult’ for them. But let’s face it, when you are a competent reader from a young age, you read whatever you can get your hands on. I read my Gran’s Victoria Holt’s and Georgette Heyer’s from when I was my daughter’s age. I’d worked my way through every single Agatha Christie before I was eleven years old.
I have tried to push my old favourites onto my first born but she often finds them old-fashioned and the prose style laboured. She has a very definite idea of what she likes to read and I want to encourage this passion as much as I can. Luckily, she is perfectly happy to spend her pocket money on books. Otherwise, we would be in trouble.
I trawl the second hand shops whenever I can and so does my mum. We tend to keep her well supplied that way. What would be really great is if the Kindle versions of her favourite titles weren’t quite so expensive. I keep my Kindle price low and my books are adult length. This would give us another option to keep her appetite satisfied.
I suppose if the supply ran dry she might be forced to turn to those old classics that we all read when there was nothing else available. However, there is no ‘nothing else’ these days. There’s always the TV and our various household internet devices. My fear is that if I cut off the supply, she will turn to something else and I really don’t want her to.
The sight of my daughter with her head in those books is a wonderful thing to behold, so I shall just have to keep thinking of ways to keep up.
I approached the BBC1’s adaptation of JB Priestley’s haunting drama An Inspector Calls with some trepidation. It is well trodden territory for TV and radio producers and the text studied by pretty much every schoolchild in Britain.
However, the assured performances of Ken Stott, Miranda Richardson and David Thewlis soon had me hooked. It’s so long since I have read the play that I couldn’t make any comment upon accuracy, which I suspect was a blessing.
All the twists and turns were there and the clever clues that make Priestley’s work a proper detective mystery. But what struck me most was the unnerving aptness of the story’s message. Priestley’s play, set in 1912, on the eve of the apocalyptic First World War, is an allegorical tale of the risks we run when we ignore our responsibility to others.
The Birling family are confronted with their own failings in respect to their treatment of a poor young woman, Eva Smith. The unpleasant realities of her predicaments are transported into the Birling’s comfortable drawing room by way of the mysterious and all-knowing Inspector Goole.
Thankfully, the production is subtle and doesn’t lay on the spookiness with a trowel. The real suspense and chills are caused by the powerful script itself. But what really lingers in the mind, long after the Inspector has gone, is the striking modern parallels.
In recent weeks, we have found the humanitarian crises of the wider world invading our own parlours. This production certainly made me consider how well I would fare if my conscience were to call uninvited.
The play is a classic, largely because the story is still relevant today.
The mark of a truly great piece of detective fiction.