by Kate Loveday
Reading enriches our lives. I once heard a man say proudly, “I haven’t read a book since I left school.” I felt sorry for him, for he had missed out on one of the simplest, most easily achievable experiences in life – something that not only gives hours of enjoyment but also helps to broaden our outlook on life.
I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, even as a child I can remember reading everything I could lay my hands on. I must admit I can’t remember having been read to as a child, and, as one among a family of seven, my mother probably hadn’t time for such activities. But someone must have read to me at sometime, for I can remember starting school and having an elementary knowledge of letters and being able to read the simple primers that were in the first grade.
The things we read as children have a way of shaping our actions as we grow into adulthood, and I credit the National Geographic magazine for forming my insatiable desire for travel. My father was a reader and we always had the Readers Digest and National Geographic magazines in the house, which I devoured. An article in the National Geographic on the Great Barrier Reef, complete with colour photos, made a lasting impression on me and I grew up with a strong desire to visit and experience its wonders for myself. I kept that magazine for many years, but I was in my twenties before I finally made a visit to Cairns. I was so excited, still seeing those beautiful colour plates in my mind’s eye, and was horribly disappointed to find that the Crown of Thorns starfish had eaten most of the coral that year, leaving only bare, grey skeletons. It took many years for the reef to recover, and another yet before I was able to fulfil my dream to see it, snorkelling in the beautiful clear waters of the Outer reef on a day that I will never forget. But it had stayed with me for more than half my lifetime, by which time I had been fortunate enough to be able to visit many of the places I had read about as a child in my Dad’s magazines.
Of course I read novels too, going the full gamut of adventure stories at school (ah! how I worshipped Sydney Carlton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities –so noble in his sacrifice!) Regency romances as a teen, along with mysteries (I read every Agatha Christie published) and through the old authors like Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, and Leon Uris.
I have also dipped into English history with Jean Plaidy and into Australia’s early days with that old but wonderful series ‘The Australians’ by Vivian Stuart Long , and explored our Colonial days with Patricia Shaw.
And so to our present day Australian authors such as Kate Grenville, Judy Nunn, Peter Watt, Colleen McCullough, Fiona McIntosh and Kerry Greenwood, to name but a few. Great storytellers, all.
Of course, as well as fiction, libraries and the internet are full of books about every subject under the sun. Whatever you want to read, it’s all there for you, the product of some writer who dedicated their talent and part of their life to putting their knowledge or artistry into words for you. My life is richer because of them, and I thank them all for the hours of pleasure they have given me and their insights into life.
When my children were young, a bedtime story was mandatory, and something I enjoyed as much as they did. It was a special way of bonding, and they all grew up as inveterate readers. Now I have two grand-daughters and bedtime stories are part of their bedtime ritual too. If I am visiting at bedtime, it gives me pleasure to take part. Now they have access to their IPads and can enjoy stories via the wonder of ebooks, reading for themselves. But I am still happy when the youngest brings me a book and asks, “Read me a story, Nanna.”
I am sure they will grow up with the love of reading that is passed down from one generation of family to the next. Whether we read printed books or enjoy our stories on an e-reader or tablet doesn’t matter. It is the reading, that transporting us into a different life for a few hours, to view life from different perspectives, that is so enriching.
When Cassie Taylor inherits Yallandoo, a cattle station near Cairns in Far North Queensland, she is shocked. What does she know about running cattle? But the property has been in her family for generations, and Cassie is not a quitter. She leaves behind her Sydney life and heads to the station, determined to make a go of it.
But a long drought and falling prices mean challenges Cassie doesn’t expect. To save her heritage, she’s going to have to come up with some new ideas — and fast. Then the threatening letters start to arrive.
Someone doesn’t want Cassie to succeed, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to stop her…