*I received a free ARC of this novel via NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.
She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.
In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.
Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.
Bookworm feels like the tale of my own personal journey through my literary life, but told by someone far wittier, in a self-deprecating way, than I could ever hope to be.
During the course of reading this book I was prompted to look up numerous illustrations online, dig out my own childhood reading favourites to dust off for Minishine’s approval, and add numerous classic (or merely aged) children’s books to my wish list; some to discover and some to reminisce over.
Bookworm is a treasure trove for anyone who finds themself in the title of the book. The author’s revulsion at sociability and the outdoors is mirrored in my own irritation at anything that tears me from the pages of a book, and I was suddenly no longer alone in my label as ‘that weirdo that carries a book with her everywhere…even when she’s just gone for a wee’!
It was glorious to discover old, familiar stories in Mangan’s reading history, and to vehemently nod or vigorously shake my head as she remembers and reviews them. Equally thrilling were the descriptions of (the very few!) books I hadn’t read; the discovery that I am not the only completist whose tastes run to the popular or ‘potboiler’ as well as the more lauded literary gems; and the realisation that my own evolution through fiction could be so similar to someone else’s (animals, ballet, Ladybird, school stories, etc), as if there is some sort of gene that dictates the reading metamorphosis of the common Bookworm!
If you love books, loved books, and swallowed them whole from the first time you gummed a board book, then Bookworm is the feast you’ve been waiting for. Reading Bookworm is like chatting to your best friend about the books you loved in your childhood… but without having to actually talk to anyone or put down your book!
To this day I cannot relax unless I am wholly enclosed by four sturdy walls and a proper roof, where the wind will stop messing with my clothes and blowing my hair across my face so I can’t see the page, and the sun will not cause me to be distracted from full reading-immersion by worrying about skin cancer.
– Lucy Mangan, Bookworm
You can find Lucy Mangan over at The Guardian website, or follow her on Twitter.
Bookworm released on Amazon today!
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