Lost in a Book

July 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Australia, Family History, History, Reading | 7 Comments
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Lost in a book

My Very Own Books! It was either my ninth birthday, or the Christmas of 1957 when I received the first two books I remember owning. They were compendiums of stories for children, published by Blackie.
ThreeCheers -stories

One was called “Hello There!” and the other “Three Cheers”. The books disappeared somewhere in my growing up, and I have been searching copies – or at least pictures of their covers – for the last twenty years or more.

The books were printed on cheap paper, intended for families who could not afford to buy quality books – that was certainly us! But I didn’t know that then and I wouldn’t have minded if I had known. I finally had my very own books and I loved them, losing myself in the stories time and time again.

As I was writing this, I finally found pictures of them; a copy of each book was for sale on e-bay. I am delighted to have the cover pictures – I don’t need to buy the books now.

HelloThere stories

Most of the books available for children in 1950s Australia were British books, and Enid Blyton was about the most popular author at that time. I chased down every Famous Five books that I could find in the library. I always wanted to own them but we could not afford that luxury. Perhaps that’s why I now own a collection of them – and a lot of the other books that I read as a child!

Five Go Adventuring Again

I particularly remember an Illustrated Classics magazine that must have come into the house during the time Peter was running a comic exchange around the community from his billy cart. It was “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police” – again, it was something I really loved.

Classics Illus. RCMP cover

I couldn’t have bought it, as we received no pocket money, but I did own it. Perhaps Dad got it for me, as he had fond memories of his RAF training months in Canada during WWII. This led me into other genres of books, reading that brought me knowledge in an eclectic range of subjects by the time I was a young adult.

Being a good, scared little Catholic, I was eager to see how others had become so good that they were made saints, So I loved reading about their lives. When I took the name Bernadette at my Confirmation, Mum and Dad bought me a book about the life of St Bernadette Soubiros of Lourdes.

I read many of the usual books that kids read back in the 1950s and early 1960s (I became a teenager in 1961). Many of the classics passed through my hands via the library. I was a tomboy, always wanted to be a boy but had to make do with being a girl, so I enjoyed boys’ books much more that girls’.

treasure_island

There was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Kidnapped (I read Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde in my twenties); Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne; Two Years Before the Mast; The Swiss family Robinson, and many others Strangely enough, I never came across the works of Mark Twain.

I would often become so lost in a book that I was completely deaf to everything around me – including my mother’s calls to do my household jobs. This carried on all the time I lived at home, until I married when I was twenty. I was often in trouble over it, but my books were never taken away. Mum was an avid reader herself, and knew how awful that would have been for me.

Lost in a book somewhere

Do you remember the books you read as a child? Was there a special one you will always remember?

© Linda Visman

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