Keeping Bad Company.

By Alison January 28, 2007 12 Comments 2 Min Read


I read an article that  made me sad this morning.  A Chinese girl of just thirteen is the latest much feted childrens novelist. A sweet little thing described as a cross between Harry Potter and Velma out of Scooby Doo, she has a penchant for budgies and martial arts and her success has been made possible by the sheer dedication of her family to creating the child prodigy that she is today. All well and good.

But when asked whether she had any friends our little author replied that she didn’t need any. That books were her friends, her companions, teachers and comforters. And thus she saw no need for relationships with children her own age.

Is it just me or is that a terrible state of affairs?

I have had some of the most meaningful relationships of my life with books that have crawled under my skin and found a space in my heart thereafter. I love books. They are amongst my most precious belongings and have on far too many occasions provided solace I didn’t realise I was seeking. They are there in the dead of the night when no-one else is and for the time that they occupy my mind they exist to make me laugh, cry and most of all reflect on who I am and the way I live.

But they are not my friends. They don’t remember the time I got ludicrously drunk and poured milk into gin and declared it delicious. They don’t remember my thirteen year old crush on Ian Cowan or my holiday romance with a soldier. They didn’t come dashing round the night Mark left me, nor know the reason why neither me nor  Judy Dargan will ever volunteer ourselves for a natural birth. They didn’t offer me a job when I didn’t have one, dig up my garden or take me out salsa dancing when I’d taken up hibernating. Books you see weren’t the ones who bought me some top of the range dishwasher tablets last week because they know I can’t afford them by myself.  And there isn’t a book in the world that has wiped away my tears,  held my hair back while I vomit, or left a dinner party to drive me and my floppy baby to the emergency clinic.

Not a book in the world.


  1. Paris Parfait says:

    My sentiments exactly!

  2. Amy says:

    I guess I can kind of understand what she means. If you're a loner like I was as a kid books were kind of like an acceptance. Maybe she'll have more friends when she's older like I have now.

  3. Alicat says:

    I think that for a small percentage of people, they are happier not dealing with their peers who they cannot at all relate to. I know that I was that way. I did have *some* friends when I was in high school, but none at all that were my age.
    Hopefully she grows out of it and does make friends — but some people just go through life as loners and I think if it makes them happy — go for it. 🙂

  4. Couldn't have said it better myself. What a lonely life it would be without friends. Hopefully she will get some as she gets older, but my childhood friendships brought me so many happy memories, that my children love hearing about and so enriched my life.

  5. phyllis says:

    You nailed that one!
    Blame whoever is raising her…they have obviously done some things right though.

  6. Julie says:

    I couldnt agree more…friendship is one of the most important things a child needs…you have to have a good friend to learn how to be a good friend

  7. cindy says:

    Yes that's to bad for this girl or for any child. I can relate to what Amy says. For me there is only one Book who can and does help me get throu life and that's God's Word: the Bible. He is my best Friend and what's more: he's my Father!

  8. Nonnie says:

    Oh that does seem rather sad. I love books too but they could never be any kind of replacement for my friends. I'm sure as she gets older and is independant of the parents she will realise that she needs friends as well as the books.

  9. Karlanee says:

    You know I used to feel the way that 13 year old felt. Most probably because moving so much and having a terribly dysfunctional family left me shy and untrusting with no friends. But now, I know you are right – I'm learning to cultivate friends who do remember and do care and do reach out. Beautiful sentiment you've shared!

  10. Nina says:

    I was quite the opposite. I had many friends throughout my childhood and teenage years and then realized (the hard way) that most of my friends weren't worth having. Now I try to only surround myself with positive people and friends that contribute something good to my life. The 13 yr old girl will probably figure herself out later on and become more social OR maybe become a hermit or loner. For now, I can't imagine a better friend than a book for a young girl with all the peer pressure and bad influences that come with money and success.
    Absolutely love your blog! This inspiring post made me de-lurk!

  11. Annabelle says:

    Oh, so true. She definitely should have some friends or at least one. Parents can be friends but still not the kind one thirteen year old needs. As time moves on it will become harder for her to gather up friends but not impossible. It is easier now then later in life I would believe speaking from my own experience and my daughters. One doesn't need many but a few to make life happy would be nice.
    Annabelle ~^..^~ XO

  12. Judy says:

    oh that made me laugh ,but I cried more,feel like I,ve been a bit useless recently.Having two babas is exhausting but I,m always available if an emergency should occur!xxx Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content