Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?
I am relying heavily on the Daily Post’s Writing Prompts this week for my inspiration. For reasons I cannot pin down, this bothers me. Why can’t I think of things to write about on my own…without assistance? If I think about it too much, I start to panic and worry that I have writer’s block or have hit a creative wall.
…any way…The writing prompt today caught my eye simply because, when I stopped to ponder my answer, I realized that I don’t re-read books. Yet I LOVE reading almost more than anything in the whole world. I really had to search the recesses of my literary history to think of what books I have read more than once.
And then it hit me: Booky. My Booky Books. Of course! duh!
Booky (pronounced Boo-key) is a series of stories based on the real life of a young girl (the author, Bernice Thurman Hunter) that grew up poor in depression era 1930’s Toronto. Yes, her nickname was Booky. In total, it’s just three simple, short novels – but they completely caught my imagination and my heart.
I saw bits of myself in her (she’s a day dreamer that always seems to get herself caught up in some sort of dilemma based on her curious nature). The first sentence in the first book begins with these simple words: Skinny legs flying… That was me when I was a kid – I had skinny legs and I was always running. It was a fusion of imagery and emotion that told me I could relate to this girl – she could be me…or I could be her.
The stories offer a rich and colourful portrait of Toronto in the 30’s and 40’s. Thurman-Hunter paints such a vivid picture of what life in the city, which is also my city. It’s hard not to get caught up in the feeling and the nostalgia of our history and the struggles that were endured. As I read about Booky’s adventures, and her life, I wondered what it would have been like to experience my city this way. I sometimes felt like I was living in it, through Booky’s words and memories. In a way, it was like a history lesson of my home town.
I guess there were a lot of factors that drew me in and kept me and my imagination going back to Booky’s world over and over. But it was more than the plot. And it wasn’t just the characters, the setting and the events. These books made me fall in love with writing and reading and instantly solidified my own identity and dreams of becoming a writer. Bernice Thurman Hunter was my first literary hero.
I first read the Booky Books when I was 8. I have no idea as to how many times after that I read and re-read all three, but it was a lot. I loaned them out too, proud and eager to share my treasure.
Sadly, one of my original copies, the third in the series, went missing some where along the way. My two remaining copies, purchased so, so long ago, still sit on my book shelf. They are a bit tattered and wrinkled, obvious signs that they have been opened again and again.
I think the last time I read them was when I was in my 20’s. Now I’m thinking I will read them again. Booky has always been a part of my life. Maybe not actively, but these stories are deeply woven into the fabric of who I am and where I came from.
Writing about my Booky Books today as reassured me that the little girl with the skinny legs still lives inside me.