One of the things I am most passionate about is reading.
It is a absolute waste of a life to be illiterate. And it's crime in my book (pardon the pun) to not read if you can. There is so much treasure in amongst the pages of books that you cannot be wealthy no matter how much cash you have if you don't read for pleasure.
My favourite books of all time are......
... yeah right- as if I could list off just a few, I don't have all night.
I am most passionate about Children's books. Picture books, Sophisticated Picture books, novels, and Young adult fiction. I'm not biased particularly to any one genre- I grew up reading Fantasy, Sci-fi and historical novels among many others. I once read from the 'A' authors through to around 'T' from my not small public library children's section over the course of a Christmas school holidays. I discovered many gems of literature that I may not have stumbled across otherwise, including Daniel Manus Pinkwater and Rummer Godden- still very firm favourites.
I did have a bias towards New Zealand authors- it's hard not to go past: Maurice Gee, Margaret Mahy, Joan deHamel, Elsie Locke, and Jack Lasenbury. But there's so many more out there and in this internet age the truly good ones are so much easier to find.
Sophisticated picture books are a relatively new genre of children's books- and to be honest I feel a bit cheated that there weren't more when I was a kid. The pleasure of reading a book that has a story you can sink your brain into AND numerous rich illustrations is something very special.
My favourite author of sophisticated picture books is Shaun Tan- who actually comes from Perth. His illustrations are incredible and his stories are everything from quirky to thought provoking- and both combined. And when I go outside and look at all but the bluest of skies I appreciate where he got his love of clouds from.
Fairy tales seem old hat but are still very much worthy reading material- and modern takes on old tales make them even more fun.
Children these days are so lucky that there is so much more diversity in picture book publishing. What I recall from my childhood were very conservative and almost quite 'english' stories very focused on traditional children and traditional children's interests.. Now days you have the likes of Oliver Jeffers who picture books are so fun and silly, Mo Willems- with the mad pigeon, Jennie Barkers detailed, wordless stories with important messages about conservation.... Gary Crew, Chris van Ahlsberg, Lauren Childs, Julia Donaldson and oh so many more. There's so much more whimsy, and also so much more 'meat' in children's books now days.
Children's books are little slices of heaven on earth- the only problem with them is that more adults don't read them- both for themselves and to their children...
There's not much I enjoy as much as curling up in our reading corner or in bed with a warm child and a stack of good books.
If you want some one else's opinion on all this try Neil Gaiman here.
If you want some recommendations: