Lucy Mangan – Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading


Despite the fact that I like reading books, I’ve never read a book themed memoir, so after watching an interview with Lucy Mangan, I decided to buy her memoir just out of curiosity.

As a bookworm, I got my start on American classics such as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I was amazed by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are then I moved on to Dr. Seuss. It’s quite pleasing to read that Mangan also got her start from Carle and Sendak (although she doesn’t like Cat in the Hat – ah well)  Mangan then talks about how she became a bookworm and the role certain books had in her life. In between Mangan gives some information on the genesis of some of the books and a brief bio of some children’s authors.

It’s always great when one can relate totally with an author. Although in my case I veered into American children’s literature (with the exception of the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles and Enid Blyton’s Mr. Pinkwhistle series), having being brought up in Canada AND being a male bookworm made me a target for bullies but I knew the sentiments Mangan was talking about: the excitement of reading a new book, the first hardback, the joy of discovering a new author, saving for a new book, school book schemes etc. I went through it all (and I still do)  and it was a joy reading about it.

Unfortunately due to the amount of British authors mentioned I did drift from the narrative but it’s due to the fact that I was eager to read Mangan’s opinions about the books I read and loved as a child. Thankfully she was exposed to both British and American authors so after skim reading some chunks, I would come across some passages about The Phantom Tollbooth or Judy Blume. Also the fact that Mangan adds personal events helps deepen the narrative and proves how integral books are to one’s life.

Mangan’s writing style is light and humorous but don’t let that deceive the reader. There’s a lot of information and one will come out of the book feeling smarter. Can I recommend it to people who are not book addicts? the answer is no Bookworm is strictly tailored for people who love reading but I see nothing wrong in that as it is enjoyable knowing that there are people out there who share the same feelings in such an insular (bar book clubs) activity.