So, a couple of weeks back I was in the supermarket doing the weekly shop, and my daughter came with me. I was pottering around the aisles when my daughter asked me if she could go and look at the stationery (there is a bit novelty eraser trend going on in her school right now) which I said was fine. So I carried on. I bought meat and cheese, I bought bread, I bought milk. I bought everything I needed and was ready to pay, but there was no sign of my daughter. Now as someone who is almost as addicted to stationery as she is to books, spending something in the region of thirty minutes in the stationery aisle isn’t really that odd, but all the same I was ready to go so I sought her out. And I found her, standing in the book section with a shiny new book in her hand and a hopeful little smile on her face. The conversation went something like this:
Me: what’s that you’ve got.
Her: (excitedly) it’s the new ‘How to Train Your Dragon Book’.
(context – since they watched a trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 at school, she’s been slightly obsessed with the whole series. My son had the first book and she read it in super-fast time. I think it’s the first book I’ve encountered her devouring...kind of like I do actually.)
Me: oh, interesting.
Her: can I have it? PLeeaaaase? (winsome smile)
Me: (inward dilemma. I am not buying books, not buying books for anybody. Not even gifts, that’s what I said. I am not buying books. I am not.)
That was the first one.
Then she devoured that one, and came to see me with the pleady eyes begging for the second book in the series, ‘How to Be a Pirate’. ‘No’, I thought. ‘I can’t get back into the terrible habit,’ and to my credit the first thing I did was check the book’s availability at the library. I would rather go to the library and I do love taking the kids there. No luck. Whilst there are copies, none were available and there were even reservations against them. I am able to wait, but for a nine year old waiting is never going to be a key strength. So I had a little look around the various bookshops and there are, of course, plenty of copies there and whilst I was browsing I came across a marvellous set which included the first 10 (ten!) books in the series at the meagre price of £30.
So that’s how I bought eleven books.
Encountering across a series of books that one of my kids was really interested in was an event I was not expecting. I have always had an unspoken rule that whilst I would balk at buying them toys or games or sweets, if they want a particular book they can have it. They rarely ask for books, it is not a daily occurrence but engendering a love of reading is something that I have always wanted to share with my children. It is a companion that walks with you through life, enriching it. I could have said no to my daughter, but there is a fine balance, I think, a tipping point which makes you a reader or not reader. I am always afraid of tipping the balance the wrong way, saying no at the wrong time. Whilst my principle of not buying books is a really good one, in this case it just felt wrong. My daughter is thoroughly enjoying the world of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, she is enthused and entranced by it. I have sinned, I broke my promise to the world, but in this case it was worth it to see her tucked up in bed at night destroying her eyesight with a good, good book.
So perhaps, dear world, I need to amend my vow and promise that I will not buy any books for myself. Which I haven’t, regardless of the temptation. Oh yes, I am desperate to read The Luminaries, and when The Goldfish, Donna Tartt’s new book, is released I will be itching to get my hands on a copy. If I do, it will come from the library. That part of my promise, I am keeping.