Story of the Year: Brush your teeth: Daisy Waugh tells Imogen Edwards-Jones why reading was not always a pleasure. Her second novel, 'A Small Town In Africa' will be published by Heinemann next year

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The Independent Culture
Learning to read at home was like brushing your teeth. It was a case of 'learn to read, brush your teeth'. But I didn't really read very much in early life; there were some rather beautiful fields near our house and I had a much better time playing in them. There was more immediate gratification in fields than there was in books.

I do remember the humiliation of being read to, aged four, by a girl of the same age. Everyone was very proud of her and I had to sit and listen to her. I could not stand it. It made me so furious that I decided to learn to read myself.

I was always being given books that I pretended to read. I remember being caught out for not reading Jane Eyre. I was having a sucking-up conversation with my mother by the oven at the time and I lied about finishing Jane Eyre and I did not quite grasp that she married Rochester or that Rochester was already married or something like that. Anyway it's become a family joke ever since and I have never been allowed to forget it.

My favourite books were The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Octavia by Jilly Cooper, Noel Streatfield, obviously, A Little Princess, and I vaguely remember Tom's Midnight Garden.

I suppose I ought to lie about how much I read now. I do read a bit, but not as much as I should. Now I read a lot of Trollope, the 19th centuries, and a lot of trash.

Daisy Waugh, born 1967, is an author.

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