My earliest memory of books was when I was not quite four years old. I can clearly recall coming down the steps of Walthamstow Children's Library clutching a book so tight to my chest because it was one I hadn't 'read' before.
(For anyone who knows Walthamstow, the children's library, back then in 1956/7 was in its own building in the High Street, sited where Sainsbury's is today.)
The book was an Alison Uttley Little Grey Rabbit story, and I say 'read' in inverted commas because I can't remember if I read it myself or someone read it to me - but I have a suspicion that I was reading myself because I don't recall having to wait for Mum or Dad (or Big Sister) to read to me.
Like most children of my age (nearly 60) I clearly remember reading books beneath the bed clothes with a torch after lights out.
Does 'lights out' still happen nowadays? I assume its 'TV/Computer/Games Console Off' now?
I've still got that book - it was the start of my writing career because it opened up the world of pony stories - and I so desperately wanted a pony of my own. We couldn't afford to keep a pony though, so I made one up and wrote dozens of stories about my pony in countless school exercise books. (She was a palomino called Tara.)
From there I went to writing science fiction and fantasy, then historical novels, and now my nautical historical adventures (with other plots and outlines waiting to be explored on the Bookshelf of Ideas).
Books have taken me on wild adventures, plunged me into romantic interludes, shattered my heart, and kept me awake at night too frightened to turn off the light until I had read to the end.
Books have entertained, educated, amused and made me think.
Books have given me a career, and brought me wonderful friends from all around the world.
Books are beautiful, and when I die, please make sure I am buried with a book.
And if you have fifteen minutes to spare, watch this wonderful video. It sort of sums up why books are so beautiful and why we love them so.
Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Morris Lessmore is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.