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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 play 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.


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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 play 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.

30 review for Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading

  1. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    "I read omnivorously but not well and certainly without a thought for posterity. I read because I loved it. I read wherever I could, whenever I could, for as long as I could." This is a wonderfully nostalgic memoir of author Lucy Mangan’s childhood reading life. But more than that, it is a book that will cause any bookworm that has adored reading since the days of diapers and bottles to reflect on his or her own experiences with books. That is exactly what I found myself doing as I read this one. "I read omnivorously but not well and certainly without a thought for posterity. I read because I loved it. I read wherever I could, whenever I could, for as long as I could." This is a wonderfully nostalgic memoir of author Lucy Mangan’s childhood reading life. But more than that, it is a book that will cause any bookworm that has adored reading since the days of diapers and bottles to reflect on his or her own experiences with books. That is exactly what I found myself doing as I read this one. My own adventures with reading don’t match Mangan’s perfectly, although there are some overlaps for sure. C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, Louisa May Alcott, and E.B. White were all writers I adored as a child. Others I came to know through reading to my own children – Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Then there were other children’s books that I missed the first and second time around and only came to know and love as an adult. Authors like L.M. Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett were somehow completely overlooked as a child as well as an adult reading to my own children! How did I miss these?! In particular, Anne of Green Gables now holds a very special place in my heart and I’m grateful to have not missed this gem, even if I did get to it rather late in life. "… you simply never know what a child is going to find in a book (or a graphic novel, or a comic, or whatever) – what tiny, throwaway line might be the spark that lights the fuse that sets off an explosion in understanding whose force echoes down years." I’ve always valued the pastime of reading as being something much more than just a simple hobby, and agree wholeheartedly with Mangan’s belief as stated above. My children didn’t just read (or have read to them) those books that I deemed ‘acceptable’, but also those books that they discovered on their own (even if I did cringe at a title or two once in a while!) I would still happily either read the book to them if requested, or in the very least offer the required cash needed to buy these books at book fairs or bookstores. The library was a place we visited often – much more than I was allowed to frequent as a child. My parents encouraged reading, but were never bookworms themselves. My sister was not a reader, my grandparents were not readers, my aunts and uncles thought it odd that I always had a book in hand. In fact, I often wonder how I became such an avid reader! To this day, my mother ‘brags’ to friends and strangers alike about how many books I read. But when she is in my company, if I pull a book out, I will likely hear, “Oh, you’re reading… again.”! I’m never quite sure about the dichotomy between her two reactions to my reading life, but I’ve given up trying to figure it out and continue on my merry way. Much as Lucy Mangan did. I enjoyed reading about her family’s reactions to her bookish life. It was really her dad that encouraged her reading and procured many a special book for her. I am quite sure this is a memory she will treasure forever. "I had adored being read to, enjoyed the stories, but the ability to take down a book off a shelf, open it up and translate it into words and sounds and pictures in my head, to start that film rolling all by myself and keep it going as long as I pleased – well, that was happiness of a different order." I think most readers will enjoy reading about the evolution, so to speak, of a child’s reading experiences. The wonder of holding a book in your hand, the joy of discovering a new, favorite author, the way we wrap ourselves up and hold dear the characters we meet along the way – these are moments we as readers treasure and this memoir relates those feelings perfectly. There were many books that I had not heard of before reading Mangan’s thoughts, and she often goes in depth about particular authors – this may or may not interest some readers depending on how much you can relate to each of those anecdotes. At times I found myself taking notes, adding books to my Goodreads shelf I’ve titled ‘for future grandkids’. Even if I didn’t always have an interest in a particular book or author, I couldn’t help feeling a connection to Lucy Mangan and all fellow bookworms in general. I highly recommend this memoir to anyone that wants to take a trip down memory lane and perhaps reflect on their own favorites as a child. "Books have not isolated me – they have connected me."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emer (A Little Haze)

    As a child my books were my constant companions. As an adult this has not changed. So when I read the blurb on this book describing it as a memoir of childhood reading I knew I had to read it and I am ever so glad I did. This book is simply beautiful. It is full of heart and soul. I felt almost like this was my own childhood story I was reading about even though I hadn't read all the titles featured in this memoir as a child myself. The author Lucy Mangan writes with such joy when she discusses As a child my books were my constant companions. As an adult this has not changed. So when I read the blurb on this book describing it as a memoir of childhood reading I knew I had to read it and I am ever so glad I did. This book is simply beautiful. It is full of heart and soul. I felt almost like this was my own childhood story I was reading about even though I hadn't read all the titles featured in this memoir as a child myself. The author Lucy Mangan writes with such joy when she discusses how books and reading have shaped her life. She shares various anecdotes about her family life and how each member of her family had a different relationship with reading. The family dynamics are written with great affection and warmth. Lucy introduces us to her mum, a woman she describes as a doer and very much not a reader. Her sister shares that same lack of passion for reading. The most influential person in her reading life is shown to be her quietly unassuming dad. He is the one who brought her home various paperbacks throughout the years. There is a particularly touching description of when he handed Lucy a copy of CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Lucy also gives background detail into some of the titles she loved as a child sharing with us factoids about authors from Eric Carle, the writer of The Hungry Caterpillar, through to Judy Blume, the author of many much loved young adult books. I had read a great many of the same books as Lucy had as a child and seeing these books through her eyes gave me such a great joy. We both loved Mog the Forgetful Cat, were ambivalent about Babar and were both fans of The Worst Witch. We both loved the Ladybird books and shared an unending appetite for Enid Blyton at a particular age. She read many of the same classics as I did: Little Women, A Little Princess to name but two. Yet she found a joy in Alice in Wonderland that I never did. We both read Roald Dahl, admittedly she a greater fan than I, but both went equally bonkers for the sunny climes of Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High books. Goodnight Mister Tom broke both our hearts but also gently held them and pieced them back together. There are some titles that I sadly missed out on during my childhood, Charlotte's Web and Streatfield's Shoe books, but reading about them through Lucy's eyes made me feel as if they had been a part of my childhood. One thing that we both shared was our phase of knocking on the back of wardrobes after reading the Narnia books. I vividly remember an old wardrobe that my Granny had in her house and climbing into it as a child and knocking all around it looking for a secret passage to another realm. I'm very gladdened to learn that I wasn't the only child that did such a thing in their innocence. There are of course many books that I read as a child that Lucy didn't; for instance I lived for Nancy Drew and Greek myths and legends but even though all my personal favourites aren't included I don't feel at all shortchanged by this book. I think however, the most important thing that Lucy does in this memoir is to show us how when a book leaves the realms of the author's mind it takes on a new existence and becomes the property of the reader reading it. There's a lovely moment in the book when as an adult meets the author of a much loved childhood book and the author dismisses it as not being some of their best work... But it is Lucy's disagreement with this revelation from the author that touched me. She didn't let it affect the great affection with which she remembered the book. Instead she holds fast to the idea that if it means something to a child and it was a part of their formative years then the worth of the book should never be devalued. One of the things she managed to express so beautifully in this memoir is how we read as children versus how we read as adults. As adults we are hyper-critical, we rush to judgments, we know what we like and what we don't, we aren't as willing to suspend our beliefs... Whereas as children we can lose ourselves wholly in any book. There is little to distract us and we just accept these book-worlds with greater ease. We don't mind the saccharine, we don't mind the clichés, we let what we do not understand wash over us... And instead read purely for the joy of reading. It's a more innocent time and a time that this book really brings back to life for the adult reader. I must confess that when Lucy Mangan ended this book with her reaching that stage in life where she reached for adult titles I shed a few tears. It was so thoughtfully written. It was so beautifully bittersweet and she really captured the essence of what it is to love reading at any age, but especially as a child. I highly recommend this book to anyone who was an avid childhood reader like myself. It will bring you such joy to read about titles that you remember reading for yourself and will also make you want to read all the ones that you missed out on! And if you didn't read as a child then I think this book would make for a perfect introduction into the world of children's literature and would hopefully begin you on a journey to a place where life is simpler and all that matters is the book in your hands. Highly recommended four and a half stars *An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Random House UK Vintage Publishing, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    A booklovers dream and a nostalgic romp through ones childhood. The authors love of reading is apparent on every page. Although their were a few books and authors I hadn't read, I found many that I had. Good memories, not just of books but libraries and teachers as well. There is more than just children's stories, there are those like Lord of the Flies and others that I read in middle school. Certainly brought back memories. A pleasure to read and one I intend to buy, treasure. A booklovers dream and a nostalgic romp through ones childhood. The authors love of reading is apparent on every page. Although their were a few books and authors I hadn't read, I found many that I had. Good memories, not just of books but libraries and teachers as well. There is more than just children's stories, there are those like Lord of the Flies and others that I read in middle school. Certainly brought back memories. A pleasure to read and one I intend to buy, treasure.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    This nostalgic memoir of a bookworm effectively reflects the dual nature of the reading experience, that of both a deeply personal encounter and one which is shared by hundreds, thousands, even millions of others over time. That we all bring ourselves to each book is an obvious truth, and while books have a life of their own, there must be something within them that connects all those that read it, something that we all connect to within the pages. As a bookseller, I saw the same books chosen ag This nostalgic memoir of a bookworm effectively reflects the dual nature of the reading experience, that of both a deeply personal encounter and one which is shared by hundreds, thousands, even millions of others over time. That we all bring ourselves to each book is an obvious truth, and while books have a life of their own, there must be something within them that connects all those that read it, something that we all connect to within the pages. As a bookseller, I saw the same books chosen again and again, parents who wished to pass on the same joyful sense of discovery that they enjoyed when they were young. That same desire permeates Mangan's work- her own steady exploration of different types of story and the opening of new worlds, which changes as she ages and her tastes/needs develop, becomes her hope, as a mother, to gift that to her (at this point somewhat less bookwormy) child. Maybe I didn't read all the books she lists, or even agree with her conclusions about them, but her overarching memory of her life as a reader resonates too deeply to ignore the fact that it is this part that's important, not what we read or even what we think about it, but that we read and want to share that great pleasure with others- it is that feeling above all else that connected this reader to this book. After all, if that's not the case, what are we doing on Goodreads at all? ARC via Netgalley

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I have never read anything by Lucy Mangan before, but, having adored this delightful memoir of childhood reading, I will certainly be exploring her previous books. Like the author of this book, I was a bookish child and have remained a bookish adult. Like the author, I always preferred my childish adventures to be vicarious – I would rather read about the Famous Five out camping than suffer the discomforts, and dangers, myself. Like her, I became immersed in books, to the infuriation of those ar I have never read anything by Lucy Mangan before, but, having adored this delightful memoir of childhood reading, I will certainly be exploring her previous books. Like the author of this book, I was a bookish child and have remained a bookish adult. Like the author, I always preferred my childish adventures to be vicarious – I would rather read about the Famous Five out camping than suffer the discomforts, and dangers, myself. Like her, I became immersed in books, to the infuriation of those around me (my husband still sometimes grumbles at my lack of response to his remarks, but generally accepts my inability to know he is there as a plus that enables him to watch endless snooker championships – each to their own). This is a memoir of Lucy Mangan’s childhood reading, but it is so much more than that. It gives potted backgrounds to authors and books, it gives context, and it enthuses. From Mog, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and Maurice Sendak, through her love of the library, the difficulty of fitting in at school, “My Naughty Little Sister,” “Milly-Molly-Mandy,” Ladybird Books, E.Nesbit, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, illustrations, Narnia, school books, Classics, Just William, the Wombles , Judy Blume and on and on and on, through endless literary delights, there is much to re-discover – or, if you are lucky – to discover for the first time. Along the way, the author muses on growing up and how books help you do so, on how those of us who grew up before the internet had to go on quests to discover whether favourite books had sequels and, if they did, were they still in print? Lucy Mangan is younger than me by about a decade, so not all of her childhood books were mine (I missed “Sweet Valley High,” but remember my niece’s love of them) and have since ordered other books she raved about (“Private – Keep out!”) to share with my own daughter. There is a helpful list of books at the end, have you not (as most Bookworms do) activity scribble notes, afraid of missing a title. As an adult, Mangan ruefully remarks, we read differently. It is true – I help run several book groups and I utilise Audible to help me read while shuttling between school run and work – but the true joy of any Bookworm is reading and that is, generally, a solitary occupation. It is joyful to know you are not alone in your obsession and, should you also love reading, you will also love this book. It was a pleasure to read and my thanks go to the publisher, via NetGalley, for a review copy of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    So, fellow GoodReaders, this is probably our communal biography! Anyone who charts their childhood by what they were reading, anyone who recalls the wonder of weekly visits to the library with a parent (all those books!), anyone who remembers being forced to read the back of the cereal packet because books weren't allowed at the dining table will find themselves in here. Mangan captures beautifully not just the fact of reading constantly, but the magic of complete child-like immersion in other w So, fellow GoodReaders, this is probably our communal biography! Anyone who charts their childhood by what they were reading, anyone who recalls the wonder of weekly visits to the library with a parent (all those books!), anyone who remembers being forced to read the back of the cereal packet because books weren't allowed at the dining table will find themselves in here. Mangan captures beautifully not just the fact of reading constantly, but the magic of complete child-like immersion in other worlds. As she says, as children we read uncritically, we expect - and usually find - pleasure in every book we open. And we re-read - obsessively. Something of that innocent passion dissipates as we get older: not every book is as good as we want it to be, real life can be difficult to shut off, and re-reading can feel like an indulgence when there are new books, review copies, prize-winners and talking points to catch up with. Although I'm younger than Mangan, I was surprised at how few childhood books we share: Plop, yes; Little Women, of course; Alice in Wonderland, for sure; the Narnia books, oh yes. But that doesn't really matter because what is most familiar here is the time we had to read as kids and the sheer obsession with buying, collecting and reading books, sometimes literally all day. Bliss! I've loved Mangan's writing since her Stylist column - she's less biting here, but just as open, witty and acute. She mingles her memoirs with potted lives of the writers she loved and offers up a mini history of children's writing, unafraid to confront the controversies of authors whose historical placement meant they offered up only white, middle-class stories that internalised gender and other constrictions. This is a fast read but it recalls with warmth and wit the books and very practice of reading which made us who we are today. And oh yes, the nostalgia of Ladybird books! Many thanks to Vintage for an ARC via NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    I tend to always love books about books but unfortunately this was an exception to the rule. Even though Lucy Mangan talks vividly about books I recognised and read as a child, I found it quite tedious and slow. It takes a lot for me to not finish a title and I rarely feel like I just cannot manage to get to end but that did happen here. Books are subjective though, so i'm sure i'm in the minority with this view. I do feel that most bookworms would love this, especially if they grew up in the sa I tend to always love books about books but unfortunately this was an exception to the rule. Even though Lucy Mangan talks vividly about books I recognised and read as a child, I found it quite tedious and slow. It takes a lot for me to not finish a title and I rarely feel like I just cannot manage to get to end but that did happen here. Books are subjective though, so i'm sure i'm in the minority with this view. I do feel that most bookworms would love this, especially if they grew up in the same times as Mangan. So, if you like the sound of the synopsis do give it a go! Many thanks to Square Peg for an ARC. I was not required to post a review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Thoughts after having to give up - I very rarely, if ever, give up on a book as I always try and stick it out hoping it'll pick up but life is too short to read tedious books and I struggled from the start to be interested. This surprised me as I usually love books about books or based in a bookshop, library etc but this was a huge let down and I think it was the writing more than anything. I feel this read will polarise opinion - you will either love it or loathe it. I always feel sad if I dislike or can't finish a book as I know that it will have taken time and effort to write and put together but I have to be honest about my view. The star rating is based on the part of the book I read as I cannot give an opinion on the rest of the book. Full review to come.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    3.5 rounded up. If you were the kind of child who stayed indoors to read while other kids were playing outside, whose family was irritated because "your nose was always stuck in a book", who haunted the library and spent all your allowance on books, then Lucy Mangan has your number. This was a trip down memory lane in books for me, and I enjoyed the whole thing. Plus Mangan is very funny. The only downside for me was her description of "the funniest book she ever read" and her all time favorite: 3.5 rounded up. If you were the kind of child who stayed indoors to read while other kids were playing outside, whose family was irritated because "your nose was always stuck in a book", who haunted the library and spent all your allowance on books, then Lucy Mangan has your number. This was a trip down memory lane in books for me, and I enjoyed the whole thing. Plus Mangan is very funny. The only downside for me was her description of "the funniest book she ever read" and her all time favorite: PRIVATE--KEEP OUT by Gwen Grant. She had me screaming with laughter at the excerpts she quoted, and of course it's out of print. The cheapest copy at Abebooks was $864.00! My library doesn't have it, neither does Kindle. Amazon has a used copy for 36.00. Disappointment all around, but of course, now I MUST find a (cheap) copy. A fun read for booklovers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This is a must-read for any former child-bibliophile. Lucy Mangan is an individual I had never heard of before reading this book but one who feels like a long-time friend, now I have finished it. This is a memoir, of sorts, chronicling Lucy's toddling, childhood, and teenage years. She uses books to mark the passage of years, which alter with the growing vocabulary and her her burgeoning love for the written word. I found myself reminiscing about so many of my own childhood favourites, whilst read This is a must-read for any former child-bibliophile. Lucy Mangan is an individual I had never heard of before reading this book but one who feels like a long-time friend, now I have finished it. This is a memoir, of sorts, chronicling Lucy's toddling, childhood, and teenage years. She uses books to mark the passage of years, which alter with the growing vocabulary and her her burgeoning love for the written word. I found myself reminiscing about so many of my own childhood favourites, whilst reading this. I, too, shared a love for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and an excitable distrust of tigers who turn up unannounced to tea. I found myself captivated by the freedom experienced by Enid Blyton's protagonists and enchanted by a sojourn in a chocolate factory with Roald Dahl. My unbounded joy at finding my previous favourite books made this feel like Mangan was relaying my own life story, rather than recounting her own. Mangan expertly summarised what it was about so many of these still beloved authors that made them so enchanting to little ones. She encapsulates both first joys and latter nostalgia, as well as giving facts about the authors lives and the book creations themselves. This book felt like a warm embrace. It provided so many forgotten favourites, that made me cast a loving eye back to my young reading self and reminisce about afternoons lost amongst the pages of many a book. My only reason for not awarding this a full five stars is due to my not having read every book collected here. This was obviously unavoidable by the author but I, nevertheless, could not get the same enjoyment out of the latter third, when I recognised so few titles from my own early reading years. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Lucy Mangan, and the publisher, Vintage Books, for this opportunity.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard

    A memoir of and, as importantly, a paean to, childhood reading. The writing style is lightly humorous, self deprecating and engaging, although the serious nature of the book and in particular the research carried out should not be underestimated. There are also some serious reflections on how to best allow a bookworm to flourish - I find the comments in the importance of frequent re-reading to a child, as opposed to an adult, very illuminating. On one level I would expect that most serious Goodr A memoir of and, as importantly, a paean to, childhood reading. The writing style is lightly humorous, self deprecating and engaging, although the serious nature of the book and in particular the research carried out should not be underestimated. There are also some serious reflections on how to best allow a bookworm to flourish - I find the comments in the importance of frequent re-reading to a child, as opposed to an adult, very illuminating. On one level I would expect that most serious Goodreaders can identify with and will enjoy this book - in fact it should be what we all have in common .... spending hours of our childhood happily immersed in, in fact lost in, the world of books, a habit we have carried to our adult years, within the perhaps greater constraints that apply. However the author does spend much of the book discussing specific books and her reaction to them, and while it is a great way to be introduced to new books (I placed several Amazon orders while I was reading) the book can pale when whole pages pass without a book that the reader knows at some level - partly my experience in the later stages as the author moves into female teenage books. In my case, although I had some childhood similarities with the author’s childhood influences (same country and only a six year age difference) there were other marked differences in areas that the author considers of prime importance to her development as a reader (gender of reading and non reading parent; overlap in reading habits with sibling - zero in her case; close to 100 percent in mine; urban versus rural upbringing) and of course most of all, and particularly relevant at that time, in gender. However my ability to identify with many of the books is aided considerably by three young daughters all of whom read somewhere between enthusiastically and voraciously. And this is the other weakness of the book - very strong on her own reading and particularly strong on revisiting her childhood books as an adult, the author (with one non-bookworm son) cannot either give any adult perspective on observing the birthing of a bookworm, or (other than in some teen fiction) any real coverage of new children’s literature. Nevertheless a very worthwhile read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    A thoroughly enjoyable and heartwarming read. Great fun.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Banks

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Warm, completely relatable account of growing up as a bookworm. I've always been a passionate believer in the power of books - even from an early age. I guess that's what being a bookworm is all about; and this is something that Lucy Mangan clearly understands too. This book is a sweet, engaging narration of the author's life, told from a bookcentric perspective. With each chapter, she outlines the books that shaped h I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Warm, completely relatable account of growing up as a bookworm. I've always been a passionate believer in the power of books - even from an early age. I guess that's what being a bookworm is all about; and this is something that Lucy Mangan clearly understands too. This book is a sweet, engaging narration of the author's life, told from a bookcentric perspective. With each chapter, she outlines the books that shaped her childhood; how they extended her learning and changed her views on the world. From the guzzling fun of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the teenage issues covered by Judy Blume, Lucy Mangan recaptures the magic of some of the most popular kids books - identifying why she thought they were so great (or not), and why we all love them collectively. I was delighted to see many of my old favourites in there; plus some that I'd completely forgotten (The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright - how I used to love that book!). Most of her opinions I agreed with, save for one. If you didn't sob when Beth died in Little Women... how?! I also tittered at the mention of the terrifying Der Struwwelpeter, which thankfully I never had, but my children were purchased recently by their stepfather... I took one flick through it and consigned it to the very highest shelf immediately! As a mother myself, I especially loved the author's frank thoughts about her own child reading; and the realisation that he wouldn't necessarily engage with books in the same way she did. That's something all us parental bookworms go through, and it can be a peculiar process (I've got one son who's a total book-maniac, and another who isn't nearly so much!). So, in conclusion - if you can't go a day without burrowing your nose in a book, Lucy Mangan's Bookworm totally gets you. It's a glorious trip down memory lane, reliving all the books that made childhood so brilliant. I loved it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It is easy to spot a bookworm at a party, they are looking for the first opportunity to slide off to a quiet room or a comfortable seat and fish their book out of their bag where they can immerse themselves in the latest fictional creations. It is not recommended to disturb them as this could be detrimental to your health, just to leave drinks in the close vicinity. And maybe some snacks. I took the news and the list to my parents. 'I'm going to need all of these,' I said gently Lucy Mangan is a c It is easy to spot a bookworm at a party, they are looking for the first opportunity to slide off to a quiet room or a comfortable seat and fish their book out of their bag where they can immerse themselves in the latest fictional creations. It is not recommended to disturb them as this could be detrimental to your health, just to leave drinks in the close vicinity. And maybe some snacks. I took the news and the list to my parents. 'I'm going to need all of these,' I said gently Lucy Mangan is a complete bookworm and has been for as long as she remembers. For her, the worlds that books opened up were places of adventure and full of magic or a place of safe haven where real life seldom ventured. If she had to go out it was invariably to the library or the bookshop to acquire more reading material. They were a source of information too, a way of learning how different people reacted to different situations. The more that she read, the more that she wanted to read further; the discovery of a first book in a series would be a moment of joy as another seam of stories would be mined. As well as books for birthdays, her dad generously provided books on an almost weekly basis, introducing new authors to her. It seems like she hasn't got rid of many of these either as she has 10,000 books, yes TEN THOUSAND books at home! A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one. ― George R.R. Martin I wasn't a complete bookworm as a child like Lucy was, I read a fair amount as a child, but unlike her, did venture outside to play on bikes and climb trees. However, reading books like this means that I can trawl my memories of the books that formed a part of my formative reading experience. I had some overlap with Lucy's reading, Blyton and CS Lewis to name but two of the authors that we have both have read. I remember being forced to read some dire books at school, but memories of others came like Swallows & Amazons, Stig of the Dump, the Willard Price Adventure books, Adrian Mole and even the Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone books that began with the Warlock of Firetop Mountain. All of my reminisces about childhood books aside, if you're a book lover of any form then you will almost certainly get something from this book and that alone makes it worth reading. Do though be warned there are spoilers for some of the books she talks about and hopefully, you will look fondly back on the books of your childhood too. 3.5 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Blakeney Clark

    9/10 Aaah the nostalgia ✨ Reading this felt like hearing the other side of a conversation I've been having my entire childhood. All the books I'd read and re-read, and re-re-read, obsessing over the characters and the worlds but never getting to really talk about them outside my own head. Lucy does an amazing job of voicing my enthusiasm for books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the My Naughty Little Sisters, the Famous Fives, Narnia, A Little Princess and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. 9/10 Aaah the nostalgia ✨ Reading this felt like hearing the other side of a conversation I've been having my entire childhood. All the books I'd read and re-read, and re-re-read, obsessing over the characters and the worlds but never getting to really talk about them outside my own head. Lucy does an amazing job of voicing my enthusiasm for books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the My Naughty Little Sisters, the Famous Fives, Narnia, A Little Princess and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. I actually felt myself tearing up when she spoke about how reading Tom's Midnight Garden made her feel because all the old melancholy of the story came rushing back to me. My favourite part was the unexpectedly touching conclusion in which she argues that a life spent in the company of fictional characters is not in fact any less of a life. It's not something bookworms are told often enough in the comparison driven, social-media-crazy world we live in today and was a much needed reminder that books are reason enough to be happy ❤️

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Mangan takes us along on a nostalgic chronological tour through the books she loved most as a child and adolescent. No matter how much or how little of your early reading overlaps with hers (a lot of mine did), you’ll appreciate her picture of the intensity of children’s relationship with books – they can completely shut out the world and devour their favorite stories over and over, almost living inside them, they love and believe in them so much – and her tongue-in-cheek responses to them upon Mangan takes us along on a nostalgic chronological tour through the books she loved most as a child and adolescent. No matter how much or how little of your early reading overlaps with hers (a lot of mine did), you’ll appreciate her picture of the intensity of children’s relationship with books – they can completely shut out the world and devour their favorite stories over and over, almost living inside them, they love and believe in them so much – and her tongue-in-cheek responses to them upon rereading them decades later. I was familiar with Mangan’s funny, cheeky style from her journalism (she has had columns in the Guardian and Stylist) and one of her previous memoirs, so I knew what I was getting into and wasn’t disappointed. She doesn’t mention her family often, but when she does she infuses their caricatures with just enough warmth to feel like real people. The author and I differ in a few key ways – I loved the Anne of Green Gables series and anthropomorphic animal stories like Watership Down, while she didn’t much appreciate Montgomery’s books and avoided animal books entirely – but I can forgive her these blind spots because she’s written such a delightful paean to the joys of being a lifelong reader. The bibliomemoir’s usual failures of too much plot summary and spoilers plus self-indulgent choices are less evident here than in many, and there are so many witty lines that it doesn’t really matter whether you give a fig about the particular titles she discusses or not. Highly recommended to bibliophiles and parents trying to make bookworms out of their children. Some favorite lines: (on the local library she visited as a child) “Stop a while, the safe, solid brick walls seemed to say, like generations of a certain kind of seeker after a certain kind of pleasure have done before you. Take your time. The books are here. You’ve got them. They’ve got you. What is it you’re looking for? An hour’s escapism? A quick explanation of a DIY problem that’s foxed you? A history lesson? A long investigation into some of the weightiest moral and philosophical issues that men have wrestled with down the ages? We’ve got ’em. And good radiators too.” “The Cat in the Hat can take his anapaestic anarchy and bugger off.” “You can identify with the main or peripheral character (or parts of them all). You can enjoy the vicarious satisfaction of their adventures and rewards. You also have a role to play as interested onlooker, able to observe and evaluate participants’ reactions to events and to each other with a greater detachment, and consequent clarity sometimes, than they can. You are learning about people, about relationships, about the variety of responses available to them and in many more situations and circumstances (and at a much faster clip) than one single real life permits. Each book is a world entire.” “children should be allowed to read anything at any time. They will take out of it whatever they are ready for. And just occasionally, it will ready them for something else.” “I do not get absorbed as easily or as fully. I am more pernickety. Where once any book would have done, I now frequently have to try a few to find one that suits. The joy, once guaranteed simply by opening a cover, is now more elusive. As an adult, your tastes (and/or prejudices) are more developed and particular, your time is more precious and your critical faculties are harder to switch off. As an adult, worries are greater and it takes a more powerful page to be able to banish them for the duration. Perhaps you appreciate it all the more when it comes, but I miss the days of effortless immersion, and the glorious certainty of pleasure.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    The reader finds out quite a lot about Lucy Mangan from her book. For one, that she has an amazing memory for the books she read as a child. I think few of us, myself included, could bring to mind so much detail about the books we read at each age. Then again, the author is clearly a hoarder, or perhaps more correctly, a cherisher of books, still owning many of the books she acquired as a child. Bookworm gives the reader a picture of a somewhat solitary child; not lonely, but self-contained, grab The reader finds out quite a lot about Lucy Mangan from her book. For one, that she has an amazing memory for the books she read as a child. I think few of us, myself included, could bring to mind so much detail about the books we read at each age. Then again, the author is clearly a hoarder, or perhaps more correctly, a cherisher of books, still owning many of the books she acquired as a child. Bookworm gives the reader a picture of a somewhat solitary child; not lonely, but self-contained, grabbing every spare moment to curl up somewhere with a book. If you’re a bookworm yourself, you’ll be familiar with the dilemma of being obliged to fulfil social engagements when immersed in a particularly gripping read. Encouraged by her father in particular, the author fell in love with libraries at an early age and believes in the importance of their role still. Mangan is passionate about passing on her love of reading to her son, even if he is a bit reluctant occasionally to show the degree of excitement she’d like over a particularly beloved book! The author is pragmatic about the distractions from reading that exist in today’s world. She notes ‘Encouraging reading in this day and age is like trying to create a wildflower meadow. Most of the job is just about clearing and preserving a space in which rarer and more delicate plants can grow…’ At times opinionated (in the sense of knowing what she likes and, to a certain extent, liking what she knows), Mangan has no time for Tolkien, gives short shrift to the books of Stephanie Meyer and confesses she still hasn’t touched a book by Charles Dickens. Having said that, in her mind, the bookworm’s ‘prime directive’ is that any book is better than no book. Her love of words is evident and there are witty, occasionally acerbic, footnotes throughout the book. A firm advocate of rereading, Mangan observes, ‘what you lose in suspense and excitement on rereading is counterbalanced by a greater depth of knowledge and an almost tangibly increasing mastery over the world.’ And returning to a book after many years, she argues, can bring new insight. ‘The beauty of a book is that it remains the same for as long as you need it…You can’t wear out a book’s patience.’ Mangan rejects the notion that a book should be regarded merely as a beautiful object: ‘Quantity of content over quality of livery has been the philosophy I have clung to’. In other words, don’t waste money on a beautiful book you’re never going to read. Still a prolific reader, she makes interesting observations about her experience of reading as an adult versus as a child, recognizing she does not get absorbed as easily or as fully in books as she once did. ‘I miss the days of effortless immersion and the glorious certainty of pleasure.’ Bookworm may be a very individual take on favourite childhood books (personally I loved the Dr. Seuss books) but I believe it speaks to all of us for whom reading is an essential pleasure, maybe even an essential part, of life. One of my favourite quotations from the book is: ‘I have lived so many lives through books, gone to so many places, so many eras, looked through so many different eyes, considered so many different points of view.’ Amen to that.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    As delightful as I expected it to be.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Girl with her Head in a Book

    For my full review: http://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/2... This was one of those rare and wonderful books about which I had the vague feeling might actually have been written with me in mind.  I followed journalist and author Lucy Mangan's Children's Book Corner column in the Guardian years ago, so it was with delight that I discovered that she had written a whole book on the topic.  Tracing from her babyhood to the present day ('For the true bookworm, life doesn't really begin until you get ho For my full review: http://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/2... This was one of those rare and wonderful books about which I had the vague feeling might actually have been written with me in mind.  I followed journalist and author Lucy Mangan's Children's Book Corner column in the Guardian years ago, so it was with delight that I discovered that she had written a whole book on the topic.  Tracing from her babyhood to the present day ('For the true bookworm, life doesn't really begin until you get hold of your first book'), in Bookworm, Mangan both relives her own life in books while also providing a running commentary on the history of children's literature.  Somehow Mangan has always seemed to understand that being a Bookworm is more than a mere hobby, but rather a way of being, a lifestyle and even at times borderline social handicap.  Nostalgic, restorative, reassuring, this warm-hearted and witty memoir celebrates all that is wonderful about childhood reading. As Mangan recalls 'hiding a book on your lap to get yourself through breakfast' and 'getting hit on the head by footballs in the playground because a game had sprung up around you while you were off in Cair Paravel', I found myself nodding along in vehement agreement, but when she asked 'Was your first crush on Dickon instead of Johnny Depp?' I actually cheered aloud - I really thought that one had been just me.  Being a bookworm can often seem a solitary occupation, but in Bookworm, Mangan illustrates how books have the power to unify us as few other experiences can.  Mangan describes reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to her young son alongside 'the ghost of [her] toddler self and the spirit of [her] thirtysomething dad in a shared delight'.  Books cross continents, class divides and generations - reading truly is an incredibly portable brand of magic. There is something very particular too about childhood reading.  Bookworm harks back to that Golden era where life barely intruded on reading time.  Reading really was like oxygen, to be gulped down greedily whenever five spare minutes arose.  A recurrent morning problem for me growing up was my tendency to get caught up in what I was reading when I was supposed to be getting dressed or brushing my teeth, leading to serious recriminations when I was not ready for school at the agreed upon time.  Then there was the panic about making sure I had enough books to make it through an entire school day - I negotiated it down to no more than four in my school-bag.  Just in case of emergencies.  Yet, while some of these habits remain with me to this day - I can still be delayed out the door in the morning if the drama is at a crux point, I rarely travel without at least two books and a Kindle - the ability to fully immerse within a fictional world is not the same as it was during childhood.  While reading, my childhood self became quite literally deaf to the world - the teacher could call my name as often as she liked, the doorbell could ring, I knew and cared nothing about it.  Adult me has lost that ability and reading Bookworm, I felt nostalgic for the experience. Despite the decade or so difference in age, Mangan and I appear to have crossed over surprisingly (or unsurprisingly?) closely in our childhood reading.  Like her, I am a huge fan of Judith Kerr from The Tiger Who Came To Tea through to When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and despite not being hugely fond of cats, I do rather adore Mog.  Many other old friends also make appearances over the course of the memoir - Shirley Hughes, Maurice Sendak, Quentin Blake, Raymond Briggs, the list goes on and on, even including some of the more obscure titles such as Tottie: The Story of a Doll's House, a book I loved but which nobody I have ever met has read.  Again like Mangan however, I too never could take to Barbar the Elephant but yet, as Mangan points out 'the bookworm's prime directive: any book is better than no book.  Always.'  I remember reading a Barbar book in that exact spirit - it was all that was available at the time. Bookworm made me realise again that gaining the ability to read gives you power over your own life.  We recognise and applaud this in terms of social mobility and education, but I had not considered it in terms of growing up.  Being transported by a book is the first independent travel I ever made.  Mangan contemplates reading on both the physical side (more shared happy memories as she recalls BBC's Look and Learn with Wordy and the Magic E) and the horror of arriving at school and realising that you have to interact with confusing children all day rather than being able to mind your business at home with your books.  As Mangan describes, unlike with the Hungry Caterpillar, there will be no magical transformation - 'it's bookworm, not bookbutterfly'.  At least you have the books to grant some form of padding against life's early traumas. Of course, not every book can be recalled with fond and fuzzy nostalgia.  Returning to bygone beloved books now as a parent, Mangan expresses wry amusement at the lack of 'satisfactory narrative resolution' within the Mr Men books and a certain discomfort with some of Roald Dahl's sadism.  Yet, despite her clear disappointment at revisiting Enid Blyton and discovering her practically unreadable, I admired Mangan's dedicated defence of Blyton's place in the canon.  I am in the bracket of children banned from Blyton, less from ideological reasons as much as the fact that my mother felt she had missed out on good books in her own childhood by reading Blyton and didn't want the mistake perpetuated.  Although I did read Malory Towers, I don't have strong associations with her myself but I can see how for many, Blyton was 'the gateway drug' on the bookworm journey.  It's just that for me, I think it was Noel Streatfeild. There is so much more to Bookworm though than one woman's retrospective on her reading.  Mangan explores how reading promotes empathy, with the example of how her own repeated reads of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark helped her as a non-nocturnal-phobe to understand why others might be afraid of this.  Quoting philosopher and psychologist Riccardo Manzotti, she describes how reading and rereading gives us 'both locks and the keys with which to open them'.  Mangan considers how re-reading deepens the relationship with a story, with the area of life which the story relates to and ultimately an improved understanding of yourself too.  The child who reads becomes the adult who thinks. Of particular interest to me was Mangan's frequent mentions of encountering and appropriating unfamiliar vocabulary through reading.  She notes astutely one of the wonderful elements of Richmal Crompton's Just William stories is the fact that they make use of interesting vocabulary which makes no attempt to dumb itself down for its readers.  During my time as a teacher, I was often shocked by how limited the vocabulary of my pupils could be (oddly, when I taught a class where English was predominantly the second language, their vocabulary tended to be better) but more than that, the way in which the drive was to pander to this rather than target it was quite astonishing.  I suggested a topic on Bill Naughton's fantastic story Seventeen Oranges and although we did do it, colleagues insisted on using the simplified version re-written for non-English speakers rather than the original.  Yet, vocabulary deficiency is recognised as a major education barrier for children of all ages.  If a seven year-old child is being protected from a simple story about stolen oranges, the notion that we can be surprised a few years later when they struggle to read an exam paper is ridiculous.  Bluntly, you need to get your kids reading and you need to allow them to run into the occasional unusual word when they do. What is interesting is how many of these 'classics' which Mangan loved in the 1970s and which I loved with equal fervour in the 1990s were written decades and decades before either of us were born.  Even The Family From One End Street (which has a special place in my heart as I read it with my grandmother), celebrated by Mangan as the first ever book to depict working-class children as heroes, was published way back in 1937.  Yet when I look in the children's section Waterstone's now, I see shelf upon shelf of Captain Underpants and generic Young Adult franchises.  If I want the books that I loved, I seem to have to go digging.  Is this again the urge to 'protect' from material that is too challenging?  I'm not dismissing newer releases - I know how much former pupils enjoyed David Walliams, Horrid Henry and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I just wonder a little about where some of the others have gone. I suppose another issue may be the rise of the term 'problematic'.  Mangan rolls her eyes at a parent who mentioned that she would not be buying her children any of the Narnia books because of the 'Christianity in them'.  Never mind that they are lovely and funny stories with fantastic characters (Reepicheep!  Puddleglum!  The DLF!) but the idea that a child just might pick up on an allegory means that they are to be considered off-limits.  And like Mangan, a lot of that escaped me anyway when I was reading it for the first time.  Even a recent explanation of how Prince Caspian was a metaphor was brand new information for me as at the time I just liked the story.  Your child is not going to be brainwashed by Christianity by reading Narnia.  Just let them get on with it.  Little House on the Prairie is another series that seems to be at risk from being branded 'problematic'.  When I was little, attempts to lend out our copies to friends were met with failure because the death of Willy the pig proved too traumatic (personally, I found it unpleasant but not exactly scarring) but these days the focus is on the depictions of race and land acquisition.  I would agree that these areas do prompt discussion.  But what's wrong with that?  Again, it's a lock and a key to understanding that these issues exist in the world.  I will never agree that shutting a book away and pretending it does not exist is the right way of handling a contentious message. There is something very particular about the passionate defense you can feel about the books you loved in childhood - I can feel seriously riled if I hear someone express disdain for Prairie or Streatfeild or indeed any of the many, many, many books that I galloped through as a child, turned back to the beginning and then galloped through yet again.  Mangan relates her belated discovery of Roger Lancelyn Green's accounts of mythology and the melancholic feeling that although they are wonderful, she has arrived at them too late for them to form part of her identity in the way that the books she read at the time did.  I sympathised as I actually did read several of Green's Greek mythology books and not only did his retelling of the night of Hercules' conception bring up confusing feelings, but I was reusing the names from The Luck of Troy in my own story-writing for the next four years. Skipping across the classics, Mangan gives potted histories around various of their publication alongside her personal recollections.  I skipped Alice in Wonderland as a child and feel quite firmly that it is Too Late Now but appreciate how significant is within the canon as a whole.  I did read most of the canon of Frances Hodgson Burnett however and it was reassuring to not only hear from another fan but also someone who thought that bun scene in A Little Princess was perhaps a bit 'much'.  It's strange, a few years ago we were picking films to watch and a friend of a friend explained at great length how A Little Princess was her all-time favourite film, she had watched it dozens of times, was obsessed with it still as an adult and then was utterly astonished to discover it had also been a book.  The bookworm in me was horrified.  That being said, I think that The Secret Garden is both a better book and a better film (1992 version). It is likely obvious by now that I read Bookworm making copious notes and having numerous moments of rapturous recognition (Mangan thought that What Katy Did At School was the best Katy book? Me too!  Thought Starlight Barking was the most bonkers sequel you've ever read in your life? Me too!  Devastated by the ending of Charlotte's Web?  Me too!  Reading Goodnight Mister Tom changed you for life?  Me too!) but it would take too long to list every single one here.  What was particularly poignant though was reflecting again about this chapter in my life with the distance of adulthood.  I am in the slow process of reacquiring my childhood books from my parents' garage and attic, something which has prompted some re-evaluation over which books are worth carrying forward and which need to take the trip to the charity shop.  More than that though, there's the painful lesson that no matter what I would wish, one cannot force a book on another person. Growing up, I used to spent huge amounts of time trying to pick out books that I thought my cousins would enjoy.  They never read them.  The fault was not with them, but with my own inability to realise that not everyone is a bookworm-in-waiting.  It's the classic gift-giving trap - don't give someone something just because you think it's worth having.  This counts double when it comes to reading.  Just because I think a book is worthy or unworthy has no bearing on whether someone else will enjoy it.  I do think this is something I am getting better at - I have even bit my tongue when a reluctant reader told me proudly how much he had enjoyed The Boy in Striped Pyjamas even though that is a book which offends me on every level.  As Mangan points out, being a good bookworm does not make you necessarily a good reader - what do I know about what another person will enjoy?  The joy of being a childhood bookworm is that you are set free to roam an imaginary landscape at your will.  My own mother bought me many books, read to me and funded many of my own later purchases and reading is a big part of our relationship (I bought her a copy of this book for Mother's Day this year), but I was also allowed (most of the time) to make my own choices and it is important that all children have the same opportunity. As Mangan points out, while being a bookworm may make social interaction more confusing, it gives back a heck of a lot more than it takes.  While at primary school, I was frequently taken out of class to show visitors what exactly I was reading, something which I found confusing until I became a teacher and realised how much of an oddity I must have been.  Reading really does please teachers.  It also does grant a facility with language that makes coursework and exams are an awful lot easier, not to mention writing covering letters in later life.  My own dear grandmother never had a great deal of faith in the English education system but she did concede that given that I had read a lot, I was at least 'trained for something.'  Reading Bookworm filled me with such joy in revisiting so many of my early favourites but whereas other writers might have been satisfied with a nostalgic countdown of books they loved, Mangan has instead provided a battle cry for reading itself.  Bookworm is a book to contemplate, treasure and revisit, to remind oneself that to be a bookworm is a gift and to look on each new book as an adventure.  More than that, when we return to the books we loved as children, we are as close as we ever can be to our own past selves - for the bookworm, is this not the most magical thing of all?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I too was a girl told off at breakfast for not passing the cornflakes packet as I hadn't finished reading it yet. I too was a girl told off at breakfast for not passing the cornflakes packet as I hadn't finished reading it yet.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The cover is even prettier irl. This is British, so not all the titles I glean will be available in my libraries, but it's a joyful read anyway. (And some of them might be on OpenLibrary.) "Riccardo Manzotti describes the process of reading and rereading as creating both locks and keys with which to open them; it shows you an area of life you didn't even know was there and, almost simultaneously, starts to give you the tools with which to decipher it." "Girls write to ask who the little women marr The cover is even prettier irl. This is British, so not all the titles I glean will be available in my libraries, but it's a joyful read anyway. (And some of them might be on OpenLibrary.) "Riccardo Manzotti describes the process of reading and rereading as creating both locks and keys with which to open them; it shows you an area of life you didn't even know was there and, almost simultaneously, starts to give you the tools with which to decipher it." "Girls write to ask who the little women marry, as if that was the only end and aim of a woman's life. I won't marry Jo to Laurie to please anyone." So notes Alcott in her diary while writing the sequel to her bestseller. When her father brought home Der Struwwelpeter, little Lucy was speechless with horror. Dad put it on a higher bookshelf, and she articulated only "No - higher. Higher again." When A Little Pretty Pocket-Book originally came with a red & black ball or pincushion, the intent was for the child to record good and bad behavior by sticking pins in each side, red for good behavior, black for naughtiness. Ladybird books, John Wesley, Methodism "I could not hold the sentences in my mind. By the time I got to the end of one, the beginning had vanished like one of those tracing games where you press down with a stylus and then lift the top sheet to erase everything and start again." (See how she offered the example of that kind of a sentence right there?) "Being a bookworm does not necessarily mean being a good reader." Mog the Forgetful Cat (and sequels) Dogger (makes her cry every time she reads it to her son) Thomas Bewick (masterful woodcuts in early picture-books) Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (she enjoys, but she despises Cat in the Hat) Quentin Blake for Patrick and "the Lester stories." When the Wind Blows (not for children) The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark (older edition) Maggie Gumption Private - Keep Out! Life With Lisa The Family from One End Street (real children in a real city close enough to The Now, as opposed to pastorals set in The Past) The Wombles (early environmentalism) Fireweed In sum, this is a book full of both charm and recommendations. Highly recommended to other bookworms, especially to introverts who want to feel less alone, and to others who want to better understand us.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    A book and biography for book lovers everywhere! If you love books, you’ll remember which books you read as a child and the first set of literary adventures you had, the visits to the library with your parents, your mum and dad reading to you, quiet time reading at school…. This is walk down memory lane and also a chance to return to the sights, sounds and smells of reading when you completely lost yourself in Narnia and even sat at the back of any wardrobe or cupboard you could find – just becaus A book and biography for book lovers everywhere! If you love books, you’ll remember which books you read as a child and the first set of literary adventures you had, the visits to the library with your parents, your mum and dad reading to you, quiet time reading at school…. This is walk down memory lane and also a chance to return to the sights, sounds and smells of reading when you completely lost yourself in Narnia and even sat at the back of any wardrobe or cupboard you could find – just because. As a child, you often crave books again and again and love returning to the worlds they open up. Narnia, the Magic Faraway Tree, Alice in Wonderland to name but three. The adventure these books inspired, the tree climbing and the seemingly endless summers of reading in the garden imagining you were one of the Famous Five. Then there’s the joy of reading these books as an adult, perhaps to your own children or just holding a copy of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and smiling at the memories. The joy of eating chocolate after having read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and still hoping as an adult that you might find a golden ticket in your next bar. Talking about memories, there’s a special place for Ladybird books. A special hug for books and bookworms everywhere.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Greenberg

    Loved it. As a fellow bookworm it brought back my book blinkered childhood, both in the books discussed and her life. Mangan writes in an engaging, emotive and amusing way. I have a few years on Mangan and treasured many different titles but so many of my familiars mirrored hers. Bookworming is such an opinionated activity, albeit in an internal way and bound up with living outside my own box. I have never regretted my obsession

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cleopatra Pullen

    How can any bookworm resist this delightful mix of reminders of childhood favourite books and funny self-deprecating humour of a woman whose life has been shaped by them? Not me! Lucy was a bookworm from the word go, she remembers the familiar The Hungary Caterpillar with his holes with the same affection she recalls Sugarpink Rose, written by Adela Turin and Nella Bosnia and published by a 1970s feminist collective, this book sadly didn’t appear on my bookshelf but I now wish it had. Visits to t How can any bookworm resist this delightful mix of reminders of childhood favourite books and funny self-deprecating humour of a woman whose life has been shaped by them? Not me! Lucy was a bookworm from the word go, she remembers the familiar The Hungary Caterpillar with his holes with the same affection she recalls Sugarpink Rose, written by Adela Turin and Nella Bosnia and published by a 1970s feminist collective, this book sadly didn’t appear on my bookshelf but I now wish it had. Visits to the library, sitting quietly reading under the benign eyes of various women as her mother ran her gynae clinics all are bought to life, a story of an era as well as a story of the books that Lucy sought out in each destination. In the introduction the author proclaims of her childhood books: "They made me who I am." And I feel the same way. Would my own past be the same if it hadn’t spent hours exploring lives of fantasy and of hard reality, and those particular books that came on the journey to becoming an adult with me, must surely have altered the person I am? Through the book which provides the reader with a light touch to the history of children’s publishing, the author explores some key books – those where she had her own personal light-bulb moments, proving that books can and do expand the mind, even if they are flights of an author’s imagination but as Lucy Mangan tells us: "You hear a lot about books expanding the mind – less gets said about its occasional usefulness in battering your expectations of life down to manageable proportions. But it really ought to be credited with both. High hopes are the thief of time and contentment." Yes, not only does this book appeal for the sheer nostalgic value, the author being only a few years younger than me seems to have had a pretty identical pile of books to read as well, but it is the first book this year that has had me laughing out loud at the humour that winds itself around my favourite subject. The other plus of reading this book having been born in same era, is that there is that recognition of a time that will never return. After all I think those of us born in the Seventies were left to our own devices a whole load more than any generation that followed us and these glimpses of that lost time are now even more firmly linked to the books that I read. As this is a book about books, and even better many of the books that guided me through childhood to emerge into the big wide world I should probably tell you what to expect. The book is structured chronologically so we have the picture books, early readers, school and the slightly longer books with chapters via a pleasant detour through the Puffin Post, onto those classics such as the Railway Children and through to pre-teens (who most definitely had not been invented in the early eighties) to Judy Blume before we launch into books with rude bits in them, followed by the marketing dream Sweet Valley High before easing us into adult fiction. The books are numerous, the author’s natural delight at most of the books not at all at odds with those natural prejudices which somewhat dictates our choices. There are descriptions of those moments where the passing of a bookworm’s chief enjoyment onto the next generation with mixed results with all those milestones that accompany us through childhood made this an absolute delight to read. I could honestly spout on about this book for ages, it was a brilliant read and looking to the future, which includes the list of books included within the book will no doubt be incredibly useful

  24. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    Full review now posted! Children’s fiction, especially children’s classics, will always be incredibly special to me. Books have been foundational for me since I was born. I slept curled around books instead of dolls or teddy bears, and I stared at pages desperately trying to understand how the squiggles on them were words. I memorized the stories my parents read to me, matching the words with the pictures on the pages well enough to convince them that I had already learned to read when I was thre Full review now posted! Children’s fiction, especially children’s classics, will always be incredibly special to me. Books have been foundational for me since I was born. I slept curled around books instead of dolls or teddy bears, and I stared at pages desperately trying to understand how the squiggles on them were words. I memorized the stories my parents read to me, matching the words with the pictures on the pages well enough to convince them that I had already learned to read when I was three, at least until they saw me “reading” a book upside down. By the time I was four, I could read pretty well and whole new worlds were opened for me. I read at school, hiding a book under my desk and hoping that my teacher wouldn’t noticed. (They usually noticed. But since I always did my work first, they feigned ignorance.) I read on the playground, hidden behind a tree. I read in bed and in the bathtub and at the dinner table when I could manage it. I read up trees and under bushes and in closets, by sunlight and lamplight and moonlight. So when I saw this book’s subtitle, “A Memoir of Childhood Reading,” I instantly related. I could tell just looking at the cover that the author was a woman who had also hoarded books and time in their pages like a dragon hoards gold. We are kindred spirits, this author and I. We might not always share the same exact taste in books, but we have a lot of crossover books that meant the world to both of us. A Wrinkle in Time, Narnia, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Matilda, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Borrowers, The Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables, and Charlotte’s Web are all children’s stories that I have loved which were mentioned in this book. But there were also a lot of books mentioned that I had never even heard of, which of course means I’ll have to track them down. However, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are a passionate bookworm and have been such since shortly after your birth. There were portions that would read very dense to those who don’t have a deep and abiding love for children’s literature, but which I found fascinating. Mangan not only told readers what books had impacted her and why, but how those same books had shaped a genre. She gave a history of children’s fiction in print, including the origin of certain awards like the Newbery and the Caldecott that still hold so much sway in the genre. Like I said, I found this fascinating. But unless you’re incredibly passionate about the children’s fiction genre I’m not sure how much appeal it will hold for you. If you happen to know someone getting a Masters degree in Children’s Literature, this would make an amazing graduation gift!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Beaumont

    What a fun memoir for all of us who have loved books ever since childhood! It seems Lucy Mangan was even more bookish than I was as a child, which I find amazing. Since I'm of an earlier generation than the author, and I'm American while she's British, we differed in many of the books we read as children. I had never heard of some of the books she refers to, especially those written for young children, but still she and I had plenty of books in common. Many of them I read after I was grown up (I What a fun memoir for all of us who have loved books ever since childhood! It seems Lucy Mangan was even more bookish than I was as a child, which I find amazing. Since I'm of an earlier generation than the author, and I'm American while she's British, we differed in many of the books we read as children. I had never heard of some of the books she refers to, especially those written for young children, but still she and I had plenty of books in common. Many of them I read after I was grown up (I wasn't going to miss out on such wonderful books just because I'd been born too early to enjoy them as a child!), and there are some, such as the Narnia books, that I feel as if I first read them as a child, even though they didn't exist then. This book is currently available only as an audiobook in the U.S., so I didn't catch some of the authors and titles (Mangan's narration is excellent, but rather fast). Fortunately, I just realized I could order a hardcover copy from Book Depository, and I am looking forward to rereading this delightful memoir in print.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Crane

    I have lapped this book up like a brand new sponge in a large bath. I loved it, and it will always stay on my book pile. I to was a bookworm, reading anything, everywhere, by torch light, street light, huddled in a corner whilst life went on around me Lucy perfectly captures the 'just one more page / chapter ' accurately. It had some very warm passages where I laughed out aloud . I did enjoy the tales behind the stories, This book perfectly captures the pure pleasure of a reader, the smell of boo I have lapped this book up like a brand new sponge in a large bath. I loved it, and it will always stay on my book pile. I to was a bookworm, reading anything, everywhere, by torch light, street light, huddled in a corner whilst life went on around me Lucy perfectly captures the 'just one more page / chapter ' accurately. It had some very warm passages where I laughed out aloud . I did enjoy the tales behind the stories, This book perfectly captures the pure pleasure of a reader, the smell of books and bookshops, the feel of each new page on your hand and fingers, as you journeyed with each character. The utter joy of opening a parcel and hoping its the book you've yearned for ! I have read so many of these books and especially loved the Ruggles family . It was an utter joy to know that there are those like me, reviewers and Lucy alike, lost in the world of words and the magic they impart to those responsive to text. I have also spent a great deal of time in tears reading this book (hence the title ) A recommended read, well done!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Very enjoyable - and it can't help but stir memories of your own, personal childhood reading. I was definitely a 'bookish' child and had the great good fortune of having a mother who worked in a Library. I remember as a child packing to go on holiday - a big pile of books always took priority over everything else. I now work as a Librarian at our local Community Library and always feel completely at home within its walls. My own favourite was the Swallows and Amazons series. My childhood did not Very enjoyable - and it can't help but stir memories of your own, personal childhood reading. I was definitely a 'bookish' child and had the great good fortune of having a mother who worked in a Library. I remember as a child packing to go on holiday - a big pile of books always took priority over everything else. I now work as a Librarian at our local Community Library and always feel completely at home within its walls. My own favourite was the Swallows and Amazons series. My childhood did not include sailing on Lakes and I lived through the children and the adventures they had in those books. Envious of Mangan's 10,000 books (can she really have so many) although I am often accused by my long suffering husband of turning our spare room into a Library. Do bookish children always become bookish adults? I've tried to think of an exception to this rule amongst my family and friends, but haven't found one. .

  28. 4 out of 5

    gem

    I absolutely ADORED this book. It made me feel so happy as it caused me to remember my own journey through books and made me want to read them all over again. Whilst remnisicing about classics, LM describes how she came across the books and what they meant to her and I loved this insight into her life. If you are like me, and gre up reading Matilda, Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden, I really would recommend reading this beautifully written love story to books. I will be buying this for SO I absolutely ADORED this book. It made me feel so happy as it caused me to remember my own journey through books and made me want to read them all over again. Whilst remnisicing about classics, LM describes how she came across the books and what they meant to her and I loved this insight into her life. If you are like me, and gre up reading Matilda, Alice in Wonderland and The Secret Garden, I really would recommend reading this beautifully written love story to books. I will be buying this for SO MANY PEOPLE. Thank you to netgalley for the chance to read this.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore

    My thanks to NetGalley and Random House, UK for what turned out to be a quite lovely read for me. I’d also like to add a thank you to my goodreads friend Susan for mentioning this book, else I mayn’t have come across it. Bookworm quite simply can be described as the author’s memoirs of her childhood reading, and it is that, but also so so much more. The author, Lucy Mangan, takes us through her reading from the days she was read to, to when she began reading herself, through till her teens, and e My thanks to NetGalley and Random House, UK for what turned out to be a quite lovely read for me. I’d also like to add a thank you to my goodreads friend Susan for mentioning this book, else I mayn’t have come across it. Bookworm quite simply can be described as the author’s memoirs of her childhood reading, and it is that, but also so so much more. The author, Lucy Mangan, takes us through her reading from the days she was read to, to when she began reading herself, through till her teens, and eventual transition into grown-up books. From The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Mog the Cat, Babar the Elephant to Topsy and Tim, Miffy, Milly Molly Mandy, Rumer Godden, Blyton, Beverley Clearly, school stories, dystopian literature, All of a Kind Family, Dr Seuss, Dahl, Narnia, Nesbit, William, Burnett, to Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume and more present-day books like the Harry Potter books and Hunger Games books―this has it all, and much much more (a real feast of children’s literature). And it isn’t just about the books themselves and the joy that they brought Mangan as a child but also the things about life and people that various books taught her, or rather opened her eyes to, and of course how she relates to or appreciates these as an adult. She also writes about children’s literature itself, how it has evolved over the years, about illustrators and their visions of/approaches to their work, and also different genres and how they developed. Starting this book, the first thing that caught my eye (and probably does every other reader’s) was the little illustration at the beginning of each chapter―a cat, a teddy bear, a school hat―this changes with every chapter and relates in some way to it, and I thought it a delightful touch. I also really enjoyed the writing―Mangan is not only witty, she has a knack for describing the books themselves and her feelings about them just perfectly. One can “feel” her love for them (and for bookish spaces), and how she is enraptured by the books, the characters, the stories, and the illustrations (the section on illustration was among my favourites). One can’t help being affected by her enthusiasm (of course one is probably already enthusiastic about books to start with). Also reading the book, I couldn’t help but reminiscing about my own childhood reading, in which there was quite a bit (though not all( in common with the author’s―mine was a lot of Enid Blyton like hers (but I have a grouse about that part that I’ll come to), Burnett, Heidi, Alcott, Topsy and Tim, among others, though while the author went through a Sweet Valley phase (these were books I’ve never read though I remember other children in my school reading them), my phase around that time with a similar type (conglomerate-produced) of book was Nancy Drew―I read pretty much all I could get my hands on, the original books, the files, even the supermysteries (that featured both Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys in one), and I also read related series like the Hardy Boys books, and Dana Girls. (Writing this down I realise that this probably has to do with my love for mystery/detective stories in general, which extends to my current reading as well.) But not to get carried away, my point was her sentiments were ones I could really relate to, much of the time. Another point on which I agree with the author is the needlessness of “updating” books to make them more relatable, editing out period specific features―I mean if books had to be relatable, why at all do we need to learn about other cultures or parts of the world, they aren’t things we see and do in our daily lives, are they? Why learn history at all? The Enid Blyton chapter in this book was the one that I was looking forward to the most and that was the one that turned out to disappoint me a little as well. While I agree with her response to many of the criticisms against Blyton, the fact that she finds Blyton unreadable as an adult (reiterated elsewhere in the book) was something that I just couldn’t digest. I loved EB as a child and I still do, I still read her and love her books (may be I am more critical of them and notice things that I mayn’t have as a child), so does my mother, so does a friend who only began to enjoy her as an adult and loves Ern and Fatty and Snubby and Barney as I do (and this is a very well read someone), and so does a whole group of EB fans of various ages I am part of on Facebook. Her Findouters mysteries (so many of them) have solutions I still find interesting, the imagination she shows in her “fantasy” books like the faraway tree books is something that always delights (and amazes), and her quite good knowledge of nature and animals reflects in some of her fiction series (the ‘Adventure’ books, for instance, or the Adventures of Pip for that matter) as well as in her non-fiction. And she doesn’t deal with only light themes, one only had to read, say, the Six Cousins books to see that. Yes, I do realise this is the author’s personal opinion but I couldn’t help but be disappointed by it (kind of like the author’s own reaction to Richmal Crompton’s opinion of her William books―not to compare the books themselves of course). But anyway, at the end of it all, this is a great book for Bookworms in general and lovers of children’s literature in particular. Like me you will probably have added quite a bit to your TBR at the end of it, so be prepared to do a lot of book shopping. But also be warned, there are some spoilers along the way (not in every case, but you are told once in a way which characters, er… pop off, etc.) so in case there are books you’re planning to read from those she mentions, may be you’d want to skip a para or two. Four and a half stars!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    The 'date started' is approximate! I only remember the date I finished which is pretty cool since it was Halloween in the U.S., and this is a book dedicated to childhood reading. I do love a book where I learn things - and this book was full of unknown (to me) tidbits on various authors and/or the childhood books they read. Lucy Mangan has a terrific sense of humor to boot, so if you read this one, don't miss her footnotes where she is not shy about injecting her own opinions. Speaking of the aut The 'date started' is approximate! I only remember the date I finished which is pretty cool since it was Halloween in the U.S., and this is a book dedicated to childhood reading. I do love a book where I learn things - and this book was full of unknown (to me) tidbits on various authors and/or the childhood books they read. Lucy Mangan has a terrific sense of humor to boot, so if you read this one, don't miss her footnotes where she is not shy about injecting her own opinions. Speaking of the author's humor, her mom and grandmother sound hilarious, definitely women I would get on well with. I found it especially heartwarming how Mangan seems to have inherited her love of reading from her dad; and it was so sweet how her dad brought her home books on a regular basis, thereby encouraging her penchant for the written word. There were quite a few books with which I'm not familiar, and some childhood classics that I am embarrassed to admit I've never read (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer for one. But one of Mangan's all time favorites is certainly a gem that I have read - The Phantom Tollbooth. And the background on this book's drafting and later publishing was one of the tidbits I really enjoyed learning about. Thanks to the NI Book Voyage for again book that otherwise never would have crossed my path.

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