Losing yourself in a good book is one of life’s great pleasures… rediscovering an old one is pure joy
In our March issue, to celebrate World Book Day, some of The Simple Things’ staff have talked about their favourite childhood books.
We’d love to hear about the books that have stayed with you since childhood, too - why you loved them, whether you have reread them as an adult, and what it was about them that made them so special. Please share your Malory Towers memories, Narnia nostalgia and Roald Dahl reminiscences with us in the comments below.
To whet your appetite, here’s our Blog Editor, Iona Bower’s choice:
by Mary Norton
Read by Iona Bower (blog editor) aged seven
Who, when they are small, could fail to love a story about little people lording it over big people? I was completely rapt by this tale of tiny folk who lived beneath the kitchen floor, making use of the everyday items of ‘human beans’ and repurposing them: cotton reels to sit on, matchboxes for chests of drawers… to this day I’d still love a living room decorated with giant paper made from sheets of handwritten letters.
The book’s a proper thriller, too; I devoured the second half in more or less one go. It’s also a tale that never ages. Published in 1952, read it now and you’d swear it was an allegory for the current refugee crisis. I’ve read it as an adult, and what struck me was the very complex narrative structure for a children’s book. It has a framed narrative (which I credit for my later obsession with Wuthering Heights). It’s told by someone called ‘Kate’ but you’re never sure if that is her name, and she’s recounting a story by Mrs May, who is in turn recounting
her brother’s story of meeting the borrowers. Still with us? Good. Because the story ends halfway through the book. The rest is mere conjecture.
And that’s what I love about it. You know nothing. It’s a huge leap of faith but no one reads The Borrowers (even the gut-wrenching twist of a last line, which I won’t reveal) and doesn’t ‘just know’ they are real. My son read it at the same age. I knew he’d finished it when he came thundering downstairs demanding: “Are there more Borrowers books? It says in the back that there are. Are the borrowers real? Are they ok?” And I said, “I don’t know. You’d better read the others and decide.” The Borrowers is a book that makes readers. Give that Mary Norton a medal