Friday, 25 January 2013

Loving books (and a lovely giveaway)

I love books. Aside from my family they are, without doubt, my greatest passion (yes - even more than Eric Cantona. And Lindt chocolate bunnies...)

I've loved books since I learned to read at the age of 3 - and in all the (many) years since there has barely been a night that I've not read myself to sleep. Sometimes I'm so tired I can only manage a page. Often I'll look up from a chapter to discover that time has somehow flown by without me noticing and it's suddenly 2am - not good when I'm likely to be jumped on by a small person at some unearthly hour but the joy of finding something you just can't bear to put down somehow outweighs the exhaustion.

In the days before marriage and babies I used to go on a week's holiday with a bag full of books (average ten per week) ...and t-shirts and swimwear chucked in as an afterthought.

The bookshelves in our house (many) are double-banked because we have run out of space. I have a huge, teetering pile by my bed and a huge, teetering (virtual) pile on my kindle too. Oh - and then there's the Amazon wishlist, currently standing at 103. But then, as literary agent Jonny Geller recently said on Twitter, nobody, on their deathbed, regrets reading too many books.

A book that has utterly captivated me this week is The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. The blurb (incidentally, my 4 year-old's new favourite word) reads as follows:

"Between the first and second world wars a group of young, non-English-speaking Japanese women travelled by boat to America. They were picture brides, clutching photos of husbands-to-be whom they had yet to meet, Julie Otsuka tells their extraordinary, heartbreaking story in this spellbinding and poetic account of strangers lost and alone in a new and deeply foreign land."

I loved it because it is so beautifully written, so different to anything I have read before, because - perhaps shamefully - I knew nothing about this period in American history and I had no idea what it was like for Japanese women making a new life at that time (something of particular interest because I live in an area with a large Japanese community which could not be regarded more differently.)

The Buddha in the Attic is published in paperback by Penguin and although the giveaway is now closed you can buy the book from Amazon and all good book sellers. Many thanks to all who entered.