From Publishers Weekly
In this often incisive childhood memoir, a British journalist and award-winning author (I May Be Some Time) recreates his early reading itinerary and pinpoints the universal experiences of the constant young reader. Most important, he understands the escape that books offer a child "More than I wanted books to do anything else, I wanted them to take me away," he writes. He follows with musings on the particular effects created by the books he encountered: the ecstasy and longing of C.S. Lewis's Narnia chronicles, the community created in the Little House on the Prairie series (here Spufford offers interesting asides on how daughter Rose Wilder Lane's arch-conservative politics shaped her mother's books, which she helped write), and the "godsend," at a certain age, of science fiction, particularly that of Ursula Le Guin. Discussions of the ideas of Bettelheim, C.S. Lewis and others are serviceable but pale in effect beside rich evocations of communions with books, such as the pleasing power of libraries, the comfort of reliable Puffin Books, the experience of reading "faster than my understanding had grown" and the inevitable moment when a young reader reaches the "saturation point" and must move beyond children's books. Moments of literary discovery (even for "one-handed" reading of porn) are offered concisely. Readers will luxuriate in the memories of being consumed by books and the ways in which Spufford shows his developing talent as a reader.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
"I need fiction. I'm an addict," confesses Spufford, a British journalist and critic. Few will dispute the sincerity of this confession after following this autobiographical journey of an obsessive reading life, which Spufford began as an escape from the envy and pity he felt toward his seriously ill younger sister. To Spufford, reading is a way of balancing the real-world experience of incident with a controlled, or "piped," experience and is the force that shaped his values, imagination, self-understanding, and personality. With humor and passion, he chronicles reading experiences and the impact of books by authors such as William Mayne, Peter Dickinson, Alan Garner, Jill Paton Walsh, Kenneth Grahame, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Jane Austen. Spufford connects his personal development through reading with research and theories in child development, cognitive psychology, language development, and literary criticism. This is a boldly honest, enlightened, and enlightening testimony of the power of reading that all librarians and other educators should read. Recommended for all public and academic libraries.Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.