I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid. Books and words required far too much attention; I was much happier laid out dribbling mindlessly on the sofa watching cartoons, gameshows and endlessly flicking channels.
As much as my concerned family and frustrated teachers tried to press me into reading, nothing seemed to stick. Thankfully, though, my friends and I became obsessed with one particular series of books: The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. First published in 1998, the illustrated fantasy saga of sky pirates and floating citadels is still being published, currently totalling 18 volumes. I was drawn in by Riddell’s incredibly detailed drawings of bulbous, grotesque goblins and lithe, shifty men, all inhabiting this radical sky-bound universe, then hooked on Stewart’s fast-moving prose and action-packed narratives.
Going back to the books for the first time in almost 20 years, I was sceptical. The intervening decades have seen me keep up my love of TV – namely in my role at the Guardian – but also move forward in my taste for books, which became an equally enduring passion. After university courses stacked with postmodernism, postcolonialism, structuralism and all the other “isms”, I had been sucked into the allure of the weighty, “difficult” tome; books you read not just for pleasure but to say that you’ve read. Surely a children’s book now would be too easy and too boring?
Read the feature in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 17/04/20]