When I was a young, lonely adult, what drove me to read was the desire to know whether I was alone in the way I viewed the world and feared I was being viewed. I read to discover the commonalities between us, to chase down a sense that someone understood me. That I wasn’t as bloody alone as I felt. That there was another family out there, who understood and cared about me rather more than I felt the one I washed up with did.
As I got older, and perhaps felt less threatened by myself and my environment or maybe even matured slightly, I noticed how interesting other people’s stories were when I read. I became as fascinated by the unfamiliar as I was by the familiar, whilst noticing that even when a character is very different, there are always connections to my own experiences and personality. What I love most about books, to paraphrase a fascinating guy I knew the best part of 20 years ago, is that you get the closest you can to the inside of someone else’s head. You get to read about the thoughts, fears and concerns of all these human beings who may not even still live. It’s a fascinating way to influence and be influenced by other people and their lives.
And so it was that I decided to follow the sage advice of my closest friend and buy a book to help my monkey understand and navigate changes in her life by introducing her to a wholly alien experience. I bought the very beautiful and poignant There’s A House inside my Mummy for us to read together. Not only does she love it (it been the only book in town these few days), I can see that she is looking at me differently, with the eyes of someone inquisitive towards and concerned about another person. Yesterday, she stopped me from reading and looked at me, eyes wide and mature with concern, worry and maybe even a little fear “do YOU feel sick, mummy? Let me give you a big hug.” It’s the first time I’ve seen her look as though she was actually in a place outside of herself and her own experience. That’s what reading does.
I am so proud of her and so pleased with this lovely book.