A Wonderful Celebration of Bookworms Everywhere: Read an Extract from Storytime by Jane Sullivan

A Wonderful Celebration of Bookworms Everywhere: Read an Extract from Storytime by Jane Sullivan

Start reading now

“What was it exactly? Wonder, rapture, delight, surprised recognition, laughter – but also darker feelings that made my heart beat fast and my stomach turn over, and sometimes a frantic urge to close the book before whatever it was sucked me in and destroyed me. But always, I read on.”

A few years ago, when my sons were younger, I decided to revisit some of my favourite childhood books. I was an avid reader, the type of child who would clean her teeth with one hand and hold her book with the other. In the space of a week, I started three of my favourite childhood novels, devastated to find pages of less than average prose. In quick succession, I closed the covers of each, for good this time. I didn’t have the courage to ruin my memories of these books by re-reading them.

Author and literary journalist Jane Sullivan did have the courage. She returned to her favourite childhood reads, and her exquisite book Storytime is the result. She revisits fifteen of the books she loved, sharing with us her memories of that book, and then her experience of re-reading it. She takes us from Wonderland to Narnia; is enchanted by Winnie-the-Pooh and the Magic Pudding, amazed by Enid Blyton and frightened by the Tales of Terror. Then there is the one book Jane truly hated – Little Women. Why had she despised Jo March, a seemingly perfect role model for a young, aspiring writer?

This intimate, intense and emotional adventure is a surprising and sometimes disturbing journey of self-discovery. As Jane relives old joys and faces old fears, she finds that the books were not what she thought they were, and she was not the child she thought she was.

Her experience is familiar. More than familiar – she speaks for me, as she explores the reasons why children become immersed in some worlds, fall in love with some characters, and importantly, recognise themselves in others. When writing about C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, she says, “If I had to find a word for the most persistent emotion I felt, and still feel, when reading these books, it would be longing.” And right there, she captures my experience of reading as a child. She captures my childhood. From The Faraway Tree, to the Secret Garden, to Narnia and more… I longed to be there. It’s why I couldn’t return to these books as an adult, in case they could no longer take me there.

Interwoven with experiences from prominent Australian writers, including Melina Marchetta and Trent Dalton, about their favourite childhood stories, Storytime is a bibliomemoir that lures us deep into the literary world. She provides information on the authors, and even the artwork. Through Jane’s explorations we understand how it is that the enchantment of books we read as children can shape the people we are today. Because we didn’t just want to read them – we needed to read them.

This is a beautiful book about why we read, and the absolute magic of losing yourself in books as a child. It’s an exploration into memory and imagination, and the fiction that shaped us. While the books I’d have on my own list of childhood favourites are mostly different, Sullivan’s descriptions of her reading experiences were achingly familiar. Storytime is a very personal journey back in time for both the author and the reader, and a wonderful celebration of bookworms everywhere.

Buy a copy of Storytime here.

About Jane Sullivan

Jane Sullivan is a Melbourne-based writer specialising in literary journalism. She has worked for The Age as a reporter, feature writer and editor. Jane won the inaugural Australian Human Rights Award for journalism. She has previously published two novels, The White Star (Penguin Australia) and Little People (Scribe Publications), which was shortlisted for the Encore Award for a second novel. Jane currently writes ‘Turning Pages’, a Saturday column on books and writing, for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and contributes to occasional features, essays and interviews in numerous publications, including Australian Book Review.

Related Articles

Podcast: Jane Sullivan Talks About The Books That Shape Us As Children

Podcast

27 November 2019

Podcast: Jane Sullivan Talks About The Books That Shape Us As Children

A Delight to Read: Try an Extract from The Model Wife by Tricia Stringer

News

1 October 2019

A Delight to Read: Try an Extract from The Model Wife by Tricia Stringer

    Brilliant and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Christian White's, The Wife and the Widow

    News

    1 October 2019

    Brilliant and Beguiling: Read an Extract from Christian White's, The Wife and the Widow

      Utterly Delightful: Read an Extract from The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

      News

      1 October 2019

      Utterly Delightful: Read an Extract from The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell

        Redemptive and Astonishing: Read an Extract from After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

        News

        30 September 2019

        Redemptive and Astonishing: Read an Extract from After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

          The Perfect Blend of Sweeping Historical Events, and Gripping Personal tales: Read an Extract from Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

          News

          30 September 2019

          The Perfect Blend of Sweeping Historical Events, and Gripping Personal tales: Read an Extract from Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

            P.S. The Perfect Sequel: Read an Extract From Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

            News

            30 September 2019

            P.S. The Perfect Sequel: Read an Extract From Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

              Remarkable. Highly Recommended: Read an Extract From The Devil’s Grip by Neal Drinnan

              News

              24 September 2019

              Remarkable. Highly Recommended: Read an Extract From The Devil’s Grip by Neal Drinnan

                A Wonderful Love Story: Read an Extract From Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich

                News

                18 September 2019

                A Wonderful Love Story: Read an Extract From Lost in the Spanish Quarter by Heddi Goodrich

                  A Tapestry of Compelling Memories, Tales and Profound Lessons: Read an Extract From Sleep by Catherine Cole

                  News

                  18 September 2019

                  A Tapestry of Compelling Memories, Tales and Profound Lessons: Read an Extract From Sleep by Catherine Cole

                    Publisher details

                    Storytime
                    Author
                    Jane Sullivan
                    Genre
                    Non Fiction
                    Released
                    01 August, 2019

                    Synopsis

                    What was it exactly? Wonder, rapture, delight, surprised recognition, laughter – but also darker feelings that made my heart beat fast and my stomach turn over, and sometimes a frantic urge to close the book before whatever it was sucked me in and destroyed me. But always, I read on.

                     In Storytime, author and literary journalist Jane Sullivan takes us from Wonderland to Narnia; is enchanted by Winnie-the-Pooh and the Magic Pudding, amazed by Enid Blyton and frightened by the Tales of Terror. Then there is the one book Jane truly hated – Little Women. Why had she despised Jo March, a seemingly perfect role model for a young, aspiring writer?

                     This intimate, intense and emotional adventure is a surprising and sometimes disturbing journey of self-discovery. As Jane relives old joys and faces old fears, she finds that the books were not what she thought they were, and she was not the child she thought she was.

                     Interwoven with experiences from prominent Australian writers, including Melina Marchetta and Trent Dalton, about their favourite childhood stories, Storytime is a bibliomemoir that lures us deep into the literary world. Through Jane’s explorations we understand how it is that the enchantment of books we read as children can shape the people we are today. Because we didn’t just want to read them – we needed to read them.

                    Jane Sullivan
                    About the author

                    Jane Sullivan

                    Jane Sullivan is a Melbourne-based writer specialising in literary journalism. She has worked for The Age as a reporter, feature writer and editor. Jane won the inaugural Australian Human Rights Award for journalism. She has previously published two novels, The White Star (Penguin Australia) and Little People (Scribe Publications), which was shortlisted for the Encore Award for a second novel. Jane currently writes ‘Turning Pages’, a Saturday column on books and writing, for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and contributes to occasional features, essays and interviews in numerous publications, including Australian Book Review.

                    Books by Jane Sullivan

                    COMMENTS

                    Leave a Reply

                    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *