My first prominent memory of books and reading comes from my grandmother.
My grandmother was harsh, stern and silent from my memories (she passed away when I was 12), but in her home there was always a locked glass cabinet of books. All of them is various stages of disrepair. I remember always looking at the books, wondering what they were about.
I remember once getting brave enough to ask to read one, and she produced a key seemingly from nowhere, and unlocked it. I wasn’t given a choice, but I was given a book.
I really struggled with it. I wasn’t very old, and the words were foreign and in small writing. I’d never read a book in English before, not on my own. My schooling was all through the medium of Welsh, and thus, all the books I’d ever learnt to read were in Welsh. I’d never encountered an English book on my own before.
Sitting there, I found it really hard, but I remember loving the feel of the pages, turning the pages. But, it had sparked something. I needed to know more.
She never read those books to me, and I struggled to form the sounds of the words in my head as I read them. English words are a lot different to Welsh words, and the letters sound different.
I haven’t seen those books in a long time, and I don’t even remember what they were called. I remember the bright red and yellow covers, I remember the sellotape holding some of them together. But, they were my grandmother’s prized books, and I remember being so excited to get to finally read them.
There are two people in my life who I can thank for my love of literature, and my desire to study literature. The first would be my grandmother, for allowing me to read those books, or at least attempt, and then for her unwavering loyalty to my growing hunger for the page. I remember she used to collect stamps from the paper and get books from stamps just for me.
The second would be my English teacher in comprehensive school. Her passion and enthusiasm for the written word and the joys fo understanding the words presented in front of you inspired me to try and understand literature in the same way.
I have a lot to be grateful for, and I owe these two people a lot for who I am today.
What’s your first memory of books? Let me know!