11 June, 2012

The Book... by Naomi Marklew

Today I am getting out the party poppers to celebrate the first in a new series on my blog. "The Book..." series will be a collection of guest posts from a variety of people, who all love reading. Where would writers be without readers? They've kindly agreed to share with us an insight into the books that have meant something to them.

We start the series with a post from Dr. Naomi Marklew.

The Book... that changed my life.

Image from: childofthe1980s.com
While this is strictly a series, rather than a single book, the most important reading experience of my academic career so far was the One, Two, Three and Away books by Sheila K. McCullagh, which I remember as the 'Roger Red Hat books'.  Roger Red Hat, together with his friends Billy Blue Hat, Percy Green Hat and Jennifer and Johnny Yellow Hat, had mildly entertaining adventures in the Village with Three Corners. These were the books that, aged 4, I was first able to read for myself, and which started a life-long love of books and reading.  

I am increasingly aware of the importance of literacy. On an everyday level, it means that I can follow washing instructions and recipes, request a tax rebate, enjoy my Grandma's beautifully handwritten birthday letters, and make sure that the bus I get on is going in the right direction.  But it has also been much more.

Reading got me through many difficult times - the loneliness of moving to a new primary school, a year of working for the council, a broken engagement - by providing alternative realities in which I could forget about my own life for a while. Reading has been a source of great joy. Reading the work of people who are close to me, as well as that of strangers, creates special literary relationships which couldn't be found elsewhere. Reading has entertained, inspired and horrified me, as well as opening up whole vistas of new experience. Now working as a post-doctoral researcher, reading is a major part of what I do; anything I write comes after a long period of reading the work of other critics.  Reading has given me a voice, and has contributed in many ways to the person that I am today. Thanks, Roger Red Hat.
Do you remember the Roger Red Hat books? Love or loathe them?

 Naomi obtained her doctorate at Durham University, having studied "elegy and how it relates to the troubles in Northern Ireland" (or "death poetry" as some of us prefer to call it). She lives in Durham with her maths teacher husband, Ryan. As well as reading, writing, being a doctor of English, playing music, knitting and much more besides, she also happens to be a pretty awesome sister-in-law.


  1. I remember the Roger Red Hat books, I remember being amazed at finding a character that shared my name. Hooray for Jennifer Yellow Hat!

  2. I'm too old for the Roger Red Hat books, but two school books that fired up my imagination were Firelight and Candlelight, and Moonshine and Magic. Thanks to your post today I searched on Amazon and they still exist! All I can remember now is those evocative titles.

    1. I recognise those titles! I think I read them too, though I remember nothing about them.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. And wasn't there a book with a six-legged dog called Star Dog?

  4. Hi Chloe. I've finally made it back to check you out - and my haven't you been busy! I like the way Dr. Markdew has highlighted the fact that the relatively 'accepted' ability to read aids us in our everyday life in ways that we tend to dismiss as 'normal'. I'm in retail and it never ceases to amaze me when I see adults that have difficulty reading.

    The Roger Red Hat books don't mean anything to me, probably because I'm ancient (if 59 is ancient), but keeping with the theme my earliest memories of enjoying books were probably as a teen, reading 'My Friend Flicka', which was a series based on the TV series about the young horse. Will check out your other blog posts as and when. I've changed my domain name by the way.

    1. Hi Tom, I thought you'd gone very quiet! When you changed your domain name it meant you no longer showed up on my blog reader so I wasn't being informed of new posts. Good to hear from you again!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.