As a child I loved to read. Sadly books were an expenditure too far for my parents when most weeks they struggled to buy food and pay bills, so they relied on the schools we attended and the local library to provide any for our entertainment and education. As a family we didn’t own a single solitary beautiful book between us, never mind a bookcase. I often thought about what a luxury an entire shelf of books would be, and I dreamt about owning my own solid oak rustic bookcase which would be crammed from top to bottom with all my favourite companions. The books would be tatty and well-read and most importantly loved. I remember my older brother wedging an unread school copy of George Orwell’s 1984 under a wobbly table leg in his filthy bedroom for the best part of a year when he should have been studying it.
I was constantly mocked by my older brothers for always having my nose in a borrowed book, and then following an eye test at school and being told I had to wear glasses the teasing intensified. Geek, Nerd, and Swot were names I became numb to and, in the end, responded to. Sadly, my immature brothers still think they’re being original and clever and have continued the tradition of name calling well into adulthood.
Dearest reader, my book-less childhood is a dull memory today as today is the day I will stun my witless brothers and I am giddy with excitement! For today I have invited them to meet me along with our Mum and Dad outside Mr Brown’s bookstore on the high street. I’ve had to bribe them to meet me saying I had news and I wanted to take the whole family out for lunch. Judging by the reluctance I suspect my Mother is fearing an unplanned pregnancy.
This morning I had a breakfast meeting with a reporter from the local paper who wanted to interview me about my book, a novel written in secret which my family didn’t know had been published, has become a best seller! The editor jumped at the idea when my publisher called them, they love the whole local girl from their tiny village doing so dam well for herself! The fact I have loosely based the fictional village on where I grew up isn’t lost on them either.
So here I am, waiting outside the bookstore, the one shop I didn’t dare enter until I managed to wangle a Saturday job here in my teens. For years I longed to go in and browse and breathe in the new book smell, but I never got beyond loitering outside and staring at the window display dreaming. Mr Brown had done a marvellous job of filling the window display with all the paraphernalia my publisher had sent including a life-size cut out of a photograph of yours truly holding a copy of my book, yes, MY BOOK! I still have to shake my head and firmly remind myself this is actually real and happening, all those years of reading and writing and submitting stories has finally paid off!
My nerves about doing a book reading intensified as I peered through the window and could see rows of chairs being put out ready for the event.
“Angela?” I hear my Mum’s voice and spin around, coming face to face with my family who have had no clue what I’ve been up to for the last ten years.
Or so I thought.
My family have arrived and are all smiling, this confused me, we are talking ear to ear beaming happy, genuine smiles here! My Mother is clutching a bouquet of flowers and my brothers are actually wearing their suits.
“Did you think we didn’t know Book Girl?” Bryan, my eldest brother laughed and held his arms out, the pride of what his little swot of a sister had achieved showing on his happy smiling face.
My intention to show them dissolved as I threw my arms around him, my smile as wide as his.