I was pondering earlier how much easier it is nowadays than in my youth to find something new to read, especially for a young person.
We had a school library at our school, but the librarian was one of those (sadly all too common) folk who seemed to think that the sole purpose of every other living soul was to annoy her. I remember asking her once (before I was ejected from the library once again) why she worked in a secondary school as she seemed to hate everyone, but specifically teenagers. This is a criticism that I often hear levelled at teachers (only very rarely at me, when I'm having a particularly grumpy phase). However, for her, it did seem true. Her main aim for the library seemed to be emptying it of people who might actually want to use it for, for example, borrowing or browsing books, so that she could sit alone in there, surrounded by bookiness. Which, now I think about it, sounds rather lovely.
The local library was a much more welcoming and pleasant place to be, although small, and I worked my way through the entire older child and young adult section before I reached 14. WHSmiths was my main source of new reading material, and visits there seemed few and far between. They weren't, of course, but everything seems so V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W when you are young.
These days, the Internet acts as amazing library and WHSmiths all rolled into one utterly fabulous package. And thanks to cookies (which I'm sure I should be more wary of, but I'm an optimistic sort who struggles to see beyond "isn't new technology WONDERFUL!) my kindle and Amazon KNOW what I want to read next! Perhaps even before I do.
This is how I stumbled on the fabulous Crongton Knights by Alex Wheatle. I read The Smell of Other People's Houses and the Other People Who Finished This thingy came up with Crongton Knights. It was cheap so I downloaded it. Annoyingly, it's the second novel in a series, so I had to then download and read the first, Liccle Bit, before I could get started. No matter, they're both fabulous. Like when I read A Suitable Boy and Trainspotting back in the far flung days of Smiths and Miss Brookes, the fabulous English teacher, telling me what to read, it took me a while to get my head round the dialect it's written in (the novels are set in Brixton). However, they wouldn't work as a portrayal of life for young people in the area without the dialect, and it's all part of the flavour. They're excellent. Terrifying, exhilarating, depressing, but full of the wonders of the indomitable human spirit. I'm looking forward to any future instalments. Secondary school age plus - gang crime and naked selfies feature, although there is minimal bad language.
Tonight, C stumbled upon a series of books I have a feeling he is going to love (he is unable to sleep as I write, because he is too excited about what's going to happen next, what fun I'll have getting him out to school in the morning). For the first time in the history of his life, he stumbled on something he enjoys through homework! He was doing a timeline of classical Greece, and he asked me about the epic poems. I gave a relatively comprehensive response (I thought), but my answer to his supplementary question was "I don't really know, I always found it a bit boring."
"WHAT!?" C was aghast at me
"How can you like really boring history programmes and not find classical Greece interesting? I love learning about it!" Hmmm, I thought, how can I make him have faith in me again? Recommend a book.
"You should read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I think you'll like it." I'm like a human kindle...