Here, I have chosen to collect together three books which encompass the joy of childhood reading. One of them, Lucy Mangan’s memoir Bookworm, discusses the many books which shaped her as a child. The other two are beautiful picture books, one based on the life of Virginia Woolf, and the other on Jane Eyre.
1. Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan ****
In Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading, Lucy Mangan offers up a wonderful slice of nostalgia. Although older than I, Mangan read many of the same books which I did during my childhood, and recalls them with such humour and tenderness. Alongside her own recollections of the literature which shaped her, Mangan offers much informative detail about how children’s books came about, and how they have evolved over time. I really appreciated the structure of Bookworm, and found its prose engaging and really enjoyable.
2. Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear *****
I am undoubtedly too old for picture books, but consistently find Kyo Maclear’s work enchanting. When I found a copy of Virginia Wolf online, I borrowed it, and immediately started to read. As anyone who knows me even a little will recall, Virginia Woolf is one of my favourite authors, and I was keen to see how Maclear would interpret her story.
Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are beautiful, and I appreciated the way in which they worked so well with Maclear’s prose. The book has an almost Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feel to it; it is both otherworldly and recognisable. I love the use made of the original material, and feel as though the author has interpreted Woolf’s mental health in a way which can be understood by younger readers. Beautiful and unusual, with such attention to detail, Virginia Wolf was just even better than I had hoped.
3. Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt *****
I have been keen to read Fanny Britt’s work for such a long time, but have never been able to find it, secondhand or otherwise. I was so pleased, therefore, when I spotted a copy of Jane, the Fox and Me in my local library. Britt writes her own modern-day story, about a young girl being picked on at school, and weaves in the story of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
Both stories worked so well together, and I was enchanted throughout. I loved the illustration style, and found the story rather moving, and so relatable. I’m so pleased that I finally had the chance to read Jane, the Fox and Me, and will keenly look out for more of Britt’s work in future.
Have you read any of these? Which is the last book about books which you read?