Books can take us to another place; they can take us back in time to gas-lit London, or railway stations in Victorian England, or even to the centres of the Earth. However, books do not always move us through someone else’s time and space – sometimes they can move us back through our own memories.
When I was flicking through 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, I stopped on the page displaying Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer, I felt like I knew the book. When I read the description of the book, I was certain. I knew I had not only read the book, but exactly how I had come to read it, and in what circumstances. I had not thought of that book, or the night that I read it for a very long time – probably since I read it. But instantly, I remembered everything and exactly what happened in the book.
When I lived in Paris with my family, I had a wonderful friend called Claire. Even though we have not live on the same continent for eight or so years now, I would still call her one of my best friends. Claire and her brother and sister shared one huge bedroom, and Claire had what can only be described as a double-bed-sized-bunk-bed, except there was no bottom bunk. Under her bed was a long desk. Her sister and brother shared a similar sized bunk bed, except their bunk bed had a bottom bunk. Claire shared her bed with a life-sized toy of a gorilla, which she used as a pillow. I loved going over to her house for sleep overs, except for one fact – Claire was a very late riser, and I was a very early one.
When Claire came to visit me in Australia, she once slept in until 1 o’clock in the afternoon. On this particular day, this was fine with me, because it happened to be the release date of the last installment of Harry Potter, so I just gulped down as much of the book as I could before she woke up. However, when I used to sleep at her house, calling me an early riser would be an understatement. For some unknown reason, whenever I slept at Claire’s house, I would always wake up at a ridiculously early time, like five in the morning.
On this particular occasion, I woke at four, and I really could not get back to sleep. After trying in vain for a while, I got up, went to the lounge room, and tried to turn on the TV. It blasted on, outrageously loud, waking up Claire’s mum (or I should say ‘mom’. Claire is American). She stumbled out of bed, asked me why I was up, and when I told her I couldn’t sleep, she grabbed a few books from Claire’s bookcase and plonked them in front of me. One of them was Charlotte Sometimes.
Not only do I remember all this, but I remember the storyline pretty accurately. However, this is not going to stop me rereading it. I want to reread it not only so it will take me to boarding school at the turn of the century, but also so it will take me back to who I was when I last read it. It has been said that smell is the strongest sense linked with memory, but I think that reading can be equally as strong. I don’t remember reading all books this vividly, of course. I wonder what it was about Charlotte Sometimes that makes me remember it so much. I wonder what makes us remember some books more than others. Is it the book itself, or what is happening around us while we are reading it?
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Hi! I found this blog by accident and just wanted to tell you how much I’m enjoying it. You have a very pleasing writing style, thoughtful and emotionally open and modest. Thank you for sharing your reading project with the world. It’s inspiring! All the best,
Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
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