In this centenary edition of my newsletter, there are people I need to thank. Firstly, my amazing mother, who read to me, talked books with me, introduced me to Jane Austen, watched film adaptations of books with me, recommended books to me, and who always firmly believed that studying English Literature at university was a VERY good idea. She is no longer with us, and I miss her every day of my life, yet I feel every moment the privilege of having her read to me all through my teens, and grateful for the love of books she gave and nurtured in me.
My Dad is a scientist, but loves to read. He may not share my passion for Jane Austen, but he loves good crime fiction and he reads history, biography, travel and science. He is the best Dad in the world and I am so proud of him, and love the fact that he never once tried to get me to study science thinking it would lead to a good job (English Literature then seemed to lead to no job but teaching or librarianship).
My husband, Ian is not a great reader, but he has had to live with dead authors, a house filled with books, book-reading friends and guests in the house, and a wife who not only reads for pleasure but also for her job. He did once say there were two women in the marriage, and one of them had been dead for 200 years! Thanks for enduring more than 40 years of living with a book addict, Ian.
My son Kenneth always reads my newsletter and passes it to many friends. What’s more, he even takes up some of my recommendations. Others in my family usually read Notes from a Book Addict and I am grateful to them all for encouragement and comments. I hope my gorgeous granddaughters, Arabella, Josephine and Florence, will all discover for themselves the magic of books.
My wonderful friend Amanda Jones is the best lender of books I know. Through her loans, she has kindled my interest in so many new authors and the many hours we have spent with wine and books have been some of the best ever!
I am lucky enough to work for the best tour company in the world! ASA Cultural Tours took a risk by inviting me to lead a literary tour in England. The risk paid off and I’ve been doing tours for them ever since. I’ve had some of the best moments of my life on tour, made fabulous friends, seen incredible places that I could never have entered as an ordinary tourist), and adored sharing my passion for books with so many people from Australia, NZ, UK and USA. It’s a dream job, and it could never happen without my amazing friends and colleagues there, so a huge thanks to Kristen, Julie, Julia, Diane, Emeline, Romain and Sandra. Long may we continue to travel in the footsteps of great writers!
And last, but certainly not least, there is Jane Austen. Reading her novels has quite simply changed my life, giving me my career, my literary tours, so many friends, items in my house, and a never-ending source of pleasure, learning, utter satisfaction and stimulation. One never stops learning with Jane Austen. For me, the peak of literary perfection is Emma. I can only feel sorry for anyone whose life has not yet been enriched by Jane Austen, but I do sometimes have to remind myself of her wise words that “one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other”.
I began to read before I started school on my 5th birthday. My childhood was filled with books. I have had huge pleasure giving talks about books, in writing books (see my website shop if you have not yet bought or read them), I have made audio recordings about books, I have adored being a member of literary societies and I have joined book clubs. I have read my way around the world, through crises in my life, in moments of joy, exhaustion, peace, and upheaval. I listen to dozens of audio books a year and they have been bliss. Books are the best of friends, the wisest companions, solace and comfort, brain-food and excitement – books are my world and I shudder to imagine life without them. As long as I have eyes to see, ears to listen, and a brain to comprehend, I hope that the rest of my life will be stuffed full of fabulous books to read and enjoy.