Whether you are an avid or a reluctant reader, everyone has a favourite author and a favourite book, whether it be a childhood memory or a novel read as an adult. Asking to choose your favourite book of all time is a dreadfully difficult question, and one which I feel I may do a blog post on in the not too distant future…! But I certainly have my favourites, and a precious few hold that special place on the bookshelf and have been returned to more than once! I have spent a lot of time recently reading and researching different books and something that has really struck a chord in me is the books and authors which stand the test of time. Being a primary teacher I feel I am fairly up-to-date with the books children choose and the authors they come back to time and time again and I am endlessly fascinated by what is popular and in fashion. Of course there are many many new, modern authors that are becoming hugely popular with children of all ages, but I can’t help but notice that the Enid Blytons and Roald Dahls of the World will never fade. Children and adults worldwide are still enraptured by the Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG, not to mention the Famous Five and Malory Towers. In fact in just a mere few months I am taking my class to see a stage production of George’s Marvellous Medicine! Some of these stories were written for children over 60 years ago (Enid Blyton was born in 1897!) yet are still as popular today as ever, so what is it that makes an author or a story last for decades, despite the revolutionary changes the World has seen in the interim?
The reason I’m writing this is because of a particular favourite author of mine, and it’s not even fictional writing! The man in question is James Herriott, he of the All Creatures Great and Small fame, Yorkshire’s most famous veterinary surgeon. These books, charting the trials and tribulations of a vet in rural Yorkshire in the 1930s, were dramatised on the BBC during my childhood in the 1990s and have stayed with me ever since. They were the reason I wanted to be a vet (as I’m sure most children did at some point in their lives!) and the subject matter of many a wonderful family holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. I have recently re-read a lot of his books as well as listening to them on audiobook, and they have lost absolutely none of their sparkle. In fact I would even go so far as to say that I now love them even more than I did as a child. Their pure simplicity and wonderful, idyllic description of life as a country vet just makes me wish that life was still like that. I think that Yorkshire in the 30s is how life should be and I want to thank James Herriot for keeping my feet on the ground by reminding me of a simpler time, one that continues to make me smile. I will forever have my copies of ‘It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet’ and ‘Vets might Fly’, along with my all time favourite childhood book, ‘James Herriot’s dog stories’, and I will most certainly be passing them along to my children.
Long live the authors who manage to stand the test of time.