The Book

Do you remember the first book you read?

I mean really read. Not one you learnt how to read from, or one you had to read for school, but the first book that you felt all the way to your soul. The book that you stayed up to read just one more chapter, page, paragraph, word. The book that ended too soon. The book you go to when you feel down. The book you read over and over. The. Book.

My book is Wyrd Sisters by Sir Terry Pratchett.

I was 10 years old and a weird kid. I didn’t fit in anywhere. My family was going through what would be the breaking point for our parents marriage. To escape I wandered a few streets away to my Uncle’s house, my family all lived pretty close and in the summer of 1991 my going to visit was normal and safe.

Uncle Stephen and not yet Aunt Janet were always welcoming, and never judged my weirdness and awkwardness, they let me be me. Now one thing is important, my not yet Aunt was also an oddball. She had been to university, unlike most of my family, and had studied art! Their home was filled with sculptures, usually incredible clay representations of nude women. When I expressed interest Janet lit up, she showed me book upon book of beautiful sculptures and art and took me up to museums to see them.

And even better, she took me to the place where all her books were. The Library. A whole room in their home of floor to ceiling bookcases, filled and overflowing with every genre imaginable.

When I arrived this particular day, Janet asked me if I would like to choose a book to read in the garden, it was what she was doing. So, feeling like Matilda, I stood in the library and stared. Eventually Janet took pity on me and suggested one.

As we walked outside, Janet arranging drinks and snacks on the table, I studied the paperback in my hands. The cover artwork was breathtaking, for it was no front cover illustration, this was a magnificent masterpiece by Josh Kirby that engulfed the whole book. It told a story on its own. A dungeon, a witch in stocks, a royal couple, a ghost king with what appeared to be 2 more witches and a fool at his side, death (or as I would learn Death) in the corner.

Corgi-13460b Pratchett Wyrd Sisters

The day disappeared around me as I ventured into The Discworld. I discovered all the characters I had seen on the cover and how they had come to be there, not only was the cover stunning, it was a scene ripped right from the very pages I would read. I barely noticed as it grew cooler and darker, until my parents called for me to go home. Thanking my Aunt, I handed her the most magical book I had ever held thinking I would look for it next visit. Instead she simply told me to take it home and bring it back when I finished it. I spent the night curled up in bed with a torch, just one more page. When I knocked on Stephen and Janet’s door the next day, she laughed and pulled me into a hug. Then took me back up to the library to find my next adventure, talking of witches, and royalty, and what I had thought of it all the way.

It was the first time anyone had given me a book to read, not a child’s book, not a school book, but a book. A book with adventure, betrayal, comedy, and so much more. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, and so many more worlds, that I could escape to. It started me on my adventure with literature. It was the moment I went from weird kid who didn’t fit in to adventurer of the unknown.

I’m still weird, but now I know where I fit in. Between the pages. In a comfy chair with a hot drink. On a bench in the sunshine. In other worlds or ones just like this.

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