Category Archives: relationships

Do we need a new genre?

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I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to my Nan.  She’s 95 you know?  And still going strong, even if she doesn’t think she is.  I’ve been working hard trying to get her to remember what she’s achieved in her life and and to help us youngsters to understand ours.  I’ve also been trying to get her to be more outward looking.

My Nan was born in 1918.  When she was growing up she learnt the Charleston.  She worked in a munitions factory during WWII.  She was one of the first to enjoy package holidays to Spain and Italy.  She travelled on steam trains and had siblings die in their infancy from things that today wouldn’t even warrant hospitalisation.  When young all her clothes were hand made and she spent an entire day having her hair permed.  Perhaps she should write her own book!

She reads historical fiction and things like Barbara Taylor Bradford.  But it did get me thinking.  As we are living in an ever ageing population do we need a  new genre?  We have children’s books, teen books, young adult books, coming of age books… do we have old age books?  Is there such a thing?  I’m talking about fiction here.

If there was, what would distinguish it?  What would it be about?  If I ask my Nan she’d just talk in terms of existing genres.  I don’t want to be patronising but from my experience what would make a good book for my Nan would be.. happy, uplifting, life affirming, about her generation but in a realistic way that presents old age as a valued thing where individuals value themselves, look for what they can do and act on it.  (I’m trying really hard to be positive here as I have quite strong views about the poisonous attitude to old age that we have in the UK and other western countries).

Are there any books that fall into this category?  I can only think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books which have this positive attitude, but having not read any I can only attest to what I’ve seen on television.

Age UK have some great resources if you’re interested in supporting an older friend or relative.  I thought this article on Growing Old in the 21st Century was very interesting.

Does reading run in families?

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking through your blogs out there, and very interesting they are, I’m struck by all the

I borrowed this from my brother

I gave this to my Dad

It made me wonder whether the nature or nurture question applies to reading.  It certainly would appear so.  That if your parents read then you are likely to.  We’re given tons of advice from schools as parents that we should model reading behaviour to our children, particularly Dads for boys! (Does that mean more women read than men?  I’ll see if I can find out for a later post).

I have aimed hard to read to my children every day (mostly succeeded and have thoroughly enjoyed it, I’ve included a few gems to read to/with your children, particularly boys that you may not have come across) and this has only recently stopped.  They’re now 12 and 10.  I stopped because they were not becoming independent readers, seemingly preferring to hear me read rather than read themselves.  They are evolving now into more independent readers (a phase for graphic novels/comics at the moment).  My wife is a keen reader and we do have everyone reading in the house on occasions.  But I would say on balance that all this has not had the desired result.

When I think back to my own childhood I remember my parents reading the paper and flicking through magazines.  But never reading a book.  We weren’t taken to the library, but books were around, it was an unusual extravagance of my parents to buy books for us.  I was also encouraged to buy books.  But all in all not a literary household and in fact neither of my brothers is a reader.  Apart from school I don’t think they’ve read a book at all!  My Mum always says she doesn’t like books.  So those of you who swap books in the family count yourselves lucky!

I can still remember when it all changed.  A school friend read The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeC.S.Lewis aloud to us and did a good job of it.  I remember thinking to myself I want to be able to do that and it all changed from that point on.  So a big thank you to Guy Picken, who read wonderfully all those years ago in his Mum and Dad’s back room.  If I ever see him I must tell him personally.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my sons continue to develop as readers, and that one day we’ll be exchanging books saying You must read this.  I’ll try not to be disappointed it I don’t and enjoy whatever it is they do bring and exchange things with them that they will enjoy.  (I’ll expect whatever happens I’ll always recommend books to them)

So to answer the question.  I’d have to say no.  There are no guarantees whatever you do.  But I suppose if you didn’t show some enthusiasm for reading then it’s unlikely you children will.  I’ve certainly achieved that with football!

Recommended Read with older children…

The Seven Professors of the Far North, The Flight of the Silver Turtle and The Secret of the Black Moon MothJohn Fardell

The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Scatterhorn – Henry Chancellor (The Museum’s Secret, The Hidden World, The Forgotten Echo)

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The Collaborator – I couldn’t put it down today,  I just had to find out what was going to happen.

And so to bed…

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That got your attention!

My partner and I are both keen readers.  We both enjoy a thriller, we both enjoy good science based writing and, if I’m honest, like a good romance.  However, there the bookish similarity ends.

We occasionally recommend books to each other, and where one thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread, the other is often unmoved or gets something completely different from the book.  More often than not we don’t take a lot of notice of a recommendation, probably because we’ve learnt from the above.

1930 photograph from the magazine Popular Scie...

1930 photograph from the magazine Popular Science with the caption, “The new electric bread slicing machine at work in a St. Louis, Mo. bakery. The operator is holding one of the sliced loaves.” The accompanying article does not identify the bakery but this may have been the machine invented by Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, whose 2nd slicing machine was purchased by Gustav Papendick of Papendick Bakery Company in St. Louis who worked out a process to wrap the sliced loaf automatically. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The differences don’t stop there either.  My partner likes to read a series of books by the same author, whereas I prefer variety.  They like to stick to what they know, whereas I like to be challenged and surprised (hence Blissfully Ignorant Reading).

We both like reading in bed, but our routines don’t always coincide, so my partner has finished her night’s reading just as I am getting into bed and she puts the light out!  So I come downstairs and read on the sofa (normally far too late into the night).

This all sounds rather distant, but there’s no judgement attached to each other’s approach to reading.  We do discuss our books and how they have effected us, and enjoy that conversation.  We value our reading and have tried to pass on that value to our children.  This aspect of our relationship is very harmonious – true love.  I am very lucky

“Love is Patient”

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

Corinthians 13.4

We don’t always read when we go to bed 😉