My Life in Books

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I was growing up, I used to get in trouble with school for bringing my own book in, when they wanted me to read the appropriate school level books. It took a while, and my having to sit there and read through “age appropriate year three” books before they let me carry on with Northern Lights and Harry Potter. I was also the kid that would have finished the book by the second lesson of “reading aloud”: I used to keep one finger where the class were at, and keep reading till I reached the end. When it was my turn to read, I would flip back and read their bit, earning a glare from my teacher.

So, today is World Book Day 2017. In the past few days, my primary school teacher friend and I have been brainstorming ideas for her to dress up as for school. She was concerned that it had to be a book her kids knew. In the end, Red Riding Hood was decided upon and that was that.

But I kept wondering what I would have gone as, and I realised that I simply would never have been able to decide because I have immersed myself in so many fictional worlds that I feel as if I can define my life by which book series I was reading at the time.

You have my early primary school self obsessed with Harry Potter to the point Goblet of Fire doesn’t even have a readable cover. Coinciding with this was the Enid Blyton Phase: And obsession with Mallory Towers. I was also reading the Chestnut Hill series (because I loved horses). So by the time I was ten, I was convinced that children at boarding school were having a wonderful time and I wanted to join them. As you can imagine, Mum wasn’t too impressed.

When I was eleven, I discovered the TV show Doctor Who, and fell headlong into Sci-Fi and alternate worlds. The Northern Lights series springs to mind. And at this time in my life, I was practically best friends with the secondary school librarians. I think one of them gave me Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman in year eight or nine, which was startlingly eye opening for me!

In year nine, I discovered romance novels. My favourite was A Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (author of another favourite book of mine, Journey to the River Sea). I read the book so frequently that the librarians ordered the rest of her books especially for me. I also loved The Nanny by Mellissa Nathan.

Year ten and eleven began to be an amalgamation of all sorts of genres. But my class texts were To Kill a Mockingbird, and Othello. And I began to get involved with politics and got angry about injustice. I think Jodi Picoult was my favourite author at the time, and Keeping Faith my favourite of hers.

Sixth form, I didn’t have much time to read. I liked the predictable rom-coms of Cecilia Ahern and Katie Fforde. I mean, I stole The Wedding Planner from my mother when I left for university, she wasn’t too pleased so I had to buy her another copy.

University found me reading less and less and less and the amount of academic texts and papers I was required to read grew and grew and grew. I think I read two books across one year. I couldn’t tell you what they were. I could tell you I fell in love with the TV show Once Upon A Time though.

Over the past year or so, I have read lots. Some of the reviews are up here, some are not. Feminist books have become practically a staple in my reading, as well as books that absorb you body and soul and then spit you out a little raw as the last page ends. I’ve read the Peculiar Children series. I’ve been trying desperately to read the books on Emma Watson’s feminist book group: Our Shared Shelf, but it’s not been going well. I’ve read books that have been horrifyingly gripping and I have disgusted myself for keeping reading. I gave the Game of Thrones series a crack and found it fell horribly short of expectations. I’ve read thrillers, and heartbreaking tales of survival.

I am currently battling my way through The Name of the Wind, and I feel “battling” is the right word because of how much the main character annoys me. But I am determined to finish it because I rarely leave a book unfinished.

So, there it is, my life in terms of the books I have read. I mean, during all of these, I had the staples you know? Persuasion by Jane Austen, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Twist. Books that I can re-read constantly without ever getting tired of them. While my book tastes may change, the fact remains that I choose to read, because in my mind, books are magical. They transport us to realms deep within our imagination and let us play there for a while. I didn’t have many friends growing up because of my love of books, but now the friends I have agree with me. In fact, it’s dangerous! Whenever N comes to visit we always end up in Waterstones with our bags heavier and our bank accounts lighter….

So Happy World Book Day! Picking a favourite book is impossible, but a timeline of books was surprisingly easy! Any particular books you can pinpoint to a specific time?

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