Around the Year in 60 Books

World Book Day (event): A charity event held annually in the UK and Ireland on the first Thursday in March

As with all things baby loss, different things will upset different people. For some, World Book Day is a day to be avoided, for others – myself included – it’s one to enjoy. It’s most likely, because I love reading and I love fancy dress. So a day which encourages little people to read? Bring it on!

Don’t get me wrong, social media can be overwhelming with the cute kid photos and there’s often the pang of “ooh, I wish I had a child” and “I can’t believe that person gets to raise a child and I don’t!”, but on the whole, for me, I just think it’s a nice way to see what all the kids are into (I do worry about poorer households though and how they’re supposed to ‘keep up’, but that’s a rant for another day). My favourite thing is when children choose really niche books, that’s lovely. That’s a genuine connection between a child and a book. It’s made me think of Summer and her connection with them.

As I’ve mentioned previously here, I’ve seen Summer’s name in every book that I’ve read since she died. Since reading and writing have been my main source of comfort, this past year, that’s meant that the number of books, where her name has been spotted, has climbed to SIXTY.

I was reading a book earlier this week, and I was approaching the end, acutely aware that I hadn’t yet seen her name. I’d been worried about this: the streak has to end somewhere, right? (My friend was evidently worried about this too, she sent me a bookmark last year with Summer’s name on it, the idea being that this way, I could always see Summer’s name on every page. Clever.)

I flicked through the remaining pages of my book, quickly scanning and I couldn’t see her name. At first, I was tempted to cheat myself: if I abandoned the book and never finished it, surely the Summer streak could technically continue? Alas, I am no cheat! And credit where it’s due: the book – Around the World in 80 Days – was FAR too good to abandon (I can see why the Doc and Clara Clayton, in Back to the Future, named their children Jules and Verne!).

All good things must come to an end, right?

The novel unfolds during October to December. In the 230 pages of joy, Phileas Fogg travels all over the world (my hero!), with the author referencing autumn, winter and spring, but sadly there was no mention of summer.  There were some close calls scattered among the pages: my hopes rose upon seeing a summons and a summit, there was even a ruse. My niece A was mentioned in the tale (had Summer arrived on her scheduled due date, Summer and A would have shared a birthday), but as the story came to an end, so were my chances of seeing the word summer. I started writing a blog, trying to make peace with the streak finishing, in truth disappointed that it had to stop, just days before her first birthday.

But knowing it had to end somewhere, I resumed reading, now somewhat at peace. The author teased me again: he mentioned the words sums and summed, there was a samurai and even a bloody somersault! I found myself wondering, does that last one count? If you say it out loud, it has Summer in it! But no, of course it doesn’t count. And then, just as I’d truly given up hope, there she was: on page 207, accompanied by the date of my very own birthday, no less. That felt special, given that we are approaching hers. I’ve never been happier to see her name.

My birthday and Summer’s name, in the week before her birthday

I obviously will never know what Summer would have been into, but it made me chuckle this week to imagine her as a precocious little Phileas Fogg for World Book Day, as it’s a book I likely would have read to/with her. Indeed, James has a 6 year old namesake, a voracious little reader, who throughout, I felt would have enjoyed Phileas Fogg’s adventures. He’s been on boats and trains and to India, himself, and so I think he’d enjoy the adventure and the chase. Perhaps I’ll give him this special book, when he’s a little older.

In the year that Summer died, I have read 60 consecutive, random books that contained her name. Though James would logically remind you that streaks are based on luck, I would like to assign some meaning to it, after all, I’m not one for coincidences. So this is what I’ve come up with: if you turn the number 60 upside down (just like Summer turned our lives upside down), what do you get?


Summer’s birthday.

That works me for. (Insert James’ eye roll here!)

I know that lots of you kind souls are wondering how we’re doing, as Summer’s first birthday approaches on Tuesday. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but we’re just taking each day, as it comes. The first half of this week was tough, the latter half, not so much. I’m just going with it. But one thing that’s brought me some comfort, this week, is knowing that I give ‘permission’ for the Summer book streak to end now, because I will always remember that for one whole year after she died, my daughter kept me company in my books. I feel like she has sent me her name. That has been special and that cannot be taken from me.

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(4) Comments

  1. Claire says:

    Such a beautiful post Anj. 💕💕💕

  2. Hannah says:

    Beautiful post Anj, such a special way that Summer will always be with you, and with so many others across the world. Sending so much love to you both this week xx

  3. Rachel says:

    Absolutely beautiful Anj xx

  4. Melanie says:

    So moving, Anj. Thinking of you and James more than ever xxx

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