I was lucky to have grown up in a house where reading was encouraged. Both of my parents and all of my siblings liked to read and we had a modest collection of books at home. But we also had a local library and this was the source of much my knowledge of the world beyond our suburban home.

Words were also our playthings, perhaps from our Irish ancestry, where the craic is an important part of life. Telling stories, playing word games, these were integral to my life growing up in a house of ten individuals. School encouraged us to take on the classics, and to see books as an important way to learn life's lessons. But from my earliest time, I saw them as a pleasure, and my favourites as a child include Alice in Wonderland, The Water Babies, Seven Little Australians and Anne of Green Gables. For fun, my best friend and I read every Agatha Christie we could get our hands on.

As I grew older, the complexity of human relationships became my focus, and I turned to classics.