A first hand, first class description of what it is to be a child addicted to reading. Yes, I do agree with Mr Spufford that the 1960s & 1970s did see a veritable explosion of excellent and imaginative writing for children: a Golden Age by comparison to the last thirty years. I very largely agree with his perspicacious analysis from answering questions which had not previously occurred to me (I’m uncomplicated. I just enjoy a story at the level of the story!). It’s also always pleasant to read a book and feel that the author really enjoyed writing it.
He also made me think.
“But at four I was only a hearer of stories. It isn’t until we’re reading stories privately, on our own account, that the story’s full seducing power can be felt.”
‘Yes’, I thought. Then a pause, followed by ‘Oh hh H’. For at that point the awful thought occurred to me as to just what the generations of children who have been, and who are being, brought up on DVDs instead of books, have missed or are missing. Those DVD generations will not only risk growing up with a poorer grasp of language and expression, but also risk deficiencies of imagination. One has exercise tenacity in learning to read, and to practice the skill assiduously. By comparison, watching on a screen can require no (or very little) engagement with the brain whatsoever.
I bought this book second hand. I bought it largely because it was published by a publisher I have grown to trust (Faber & Faber), and because the price asked seemed reasonable. I haven’t been disappointed on either count; though I did spare a moment to bewail the passing of so many excellent, independent publishers, now swallowed up into big corporations. The wood is getting smaller.