Roger Hargreaves, Tintin, Asterix and the Doctor: My Journey Into Books

After yesterday’s celebrations of Roger Hargreaves and the Mr. Men, I’ve been thinking about my own personal reading history. I guess the Mr. Men must have kick-started that particular journey, and so now I’m lying here retracing my steps.

See, we used to go to my local library on Fridays after school when I was a kid, working my way through the Thomas the Tank Engine collection, then Asterix and Tintin. I remember avidly reading and re-reading these, but my memory being what it is means the stories themselves are all a blur. I remember one of Thomas’s friends getting stuck in a tunnel, and I think one of the smaller trains had to pull him out… Any light you can shed on this would be appreciated!

Asterix and Tintin, on the other hand… Obelix and Captain Haddock were my favourite characters, and Tintin may well have ignited my interest in science fiction with the Destination Moon / Explorers on the Moon duology and the Chariots of the Gods-inspired Flight 714.

Talking of science fiction… I’ve mentioned this before, but the library is also responsible for me getting into Doctor Who; I didn’t watch the TV series so much as read the hardback Target novelisations, I pieced together the history of the show by reading the books out of order and without having any clear idea of how all the different characters fitted together. It helped that I take after my mom, as her side of the family contains most of the readers, and so I guess it’s ironic that my nan always had issues with the monsters and aliens in the sort of geeky shows I watched; it was her genes and Doctor Who books that made me a reader.

The first book I remember reading obsessively? The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I remember getting through it in a matter of hours, which was a bit of a surprise to my family, who weren’t perhaps used to that sort of speed reading.

And now? Well, I still collect Doctor Who books, and while I still read fiction (Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett), somewhere along the line I found myself getting into non-fiction; I embraced my inner information junkie and the result is a set of messy, over-crowded bookshelves. Which is awesome.

My reading speed has reduced to ridiculous levels (must be age) but I still love books. And that’s why the Mr. Men and libraries are so important; they ignite a love of reading, of stories and of learning that can one day become a blessing and an inspiration. And I will remain forever thankful.

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