What's your 'book story'?
28 Jun 2016
As a book lover you no doubt have at least one battered edition of an old favourite book that you've read a few times over, and maybe there's even a story behind that particular copy. The marketing team at Hodder certainly do, and they have shared some of their 'book stories'.
The books that have extra sentimental value for me are pretty much all children’s books. They have seeped into my overall childhood memories and I am unable to separate my recollections of, say, family holidays to Lanzorote from the Chalet School books that I inhaled while sitting by the pool, or my flute lessons from the Noel Streatfeild books I read while waiting to be picked up.
Speaking of Noel Streatfeild, I can’t think of any book closer to my heart than Ballet Shoes. To this day I have been known to sneak a re-read when in need of comfort – a fact that seems not to have escaped my sister, who thoughtfully bought me a new copy for my 31st birthday(!) to replace my worn-out original.
My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is very special to me. Somehow as a 17-year-old I managed to persuade my dad to drive me to the nearest Tesco’s in order to wait in line for it to open at midnight. In this sleepy town just outside of Cambridge, I was not the only person who had made the late-night excursion, but nor did I see any other children out and about. No-one had even dressed up for the experience, which was disappointing – I didn’t own any HP paraphernalia at that point, but if I had, you can be sure I would be decked head-to-toe in the garb.
Upon returning to my house with my prize in tow, I camped out in the living room and read for a straight six hours. I laughed, I cried (mainly at Lupin’s death), and felt a sense of loss upon reading the last lines: “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” I managed to drag myself to bed but my mind was whirring from what I’d just read, and has been occupied with HP thoughts ever since.
My mum was a flower fairy
I inherited many old books from my mum, but one in particular stands out for me. Jennifer and the Flower Fairies by Annette Mills was a fairly thin hardback book, and this particular copy was already pretty worn out. Awful cover, with a picture of Jennifer smiling out at you and a border trimmed with illustrations of various flower fairies. Perhaps I was a little slow as a child, but despite this Jennifer looking nothing like my mum did as a girl I had the idea that the story was about her. I hadn't met any other Jennifers at this point, and had recently learned that my mum's name was in fact Jennifer and not 'mum' as i'd been led to believe. I'm not sure how long I believed this for but I think it gave the story a special kind of excitement for me, and I still have that edition.
Abandoned House of Leaves
I acquired my second copy of House of Leaves on the side of a dingy street in Walthamstow. A little wind beaten, a little sodden, it had been abandoned on top of a wall. Some would say this is merely another case of gentrification gone mad, but, given the spooky nature of the book’s contents, I’m not so sure…
Horror too horrifying . . . and a second House of Leaves!
Someone I had only just met passed me the book.
‘I think you’ll like it’ she said ‘but I got too scared of it. ‘I don’t like it anymore’.
She placed a large book on the table with a cover depicting a close-up of a door handle. As we were not well acquainted I felt it would not be polite to refuse, to tell her I didn’t read horror stories. I took the book from her and after we finished our coffee I caught the bus home. On the journey I began to read. I have no idea how I got home, how I opened the front door to my house or where the next three days went. I was completely lost inside the book. I was too frightened to stop reading. By the time I had finished it the book was covered with fevered scribbles, drawings and attempts to crack the codes within. I read it again. The effect was the same, I began looking online and reading everything about the book I could, being drawn deeper and deeper into the labyrinth. More notes joined the first set, and more joined them. When I finally managed to put the book down I felt I had stepped out of a maze. No book since has quite had the same hold on me and in some ways I am glad. I got too scared of it. I don’t like it anymore.