Tuesday, May 5, 2015Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My memories of reading

Each book is a memory, a reminder of the person we were when we read it. Here, Claire Tham shares with us the books she remembers - the ones that shaped her thoughts and her writing, and ultimately the person she became.

Published on May 26, 2014 4:27 PM

MY MOTHER worked Saturday mornings when I was a child in the 1970s; my father did not. Left with two children to entertain, my father would take my sister and me every Saturday morning to a bookshop or the National Library.

The first bookshop I remember clearly was a neighbourhood shop in Tiong Bahru, where my grandparents lived. The first thing you saw when you entered was a line of Enid Blyton books strung up by clothes pegs above a wooden table on which yet more Blyton books were laid out like tiles.

Of course, Blyton has gone out of fashion now. Her critics accuse her of wooden prose, stereotyped characters and political incorrectness. All true, perhaps, and yet, for me and other children of the 1970s, she was our passport to reading, to an idyllic England of boarding schools where children were never homesick, of midnight feasts, picnics and adventures in an English countryside free of paedophiles and other contemporary dangers.

She made me, for a time, want to be a detective; I would buy small, blue notebooks from the school bookshop and jot down car numbers and descriptions of people I saw in the street, in the wistful hope that some of them might be criminals and that I might play some small part in catching them.

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Background story

Reading, bookshops, libraries - they made up a significant part of my childhood and brought me endless solace and enjoyment. They still do.