My mother tells me that she hadn’t heard a peep out me for a while when I was a small child. She went upstairs to find me sat on my bed with my head in a book, at a time when I could barely read.

My sister was the more ferocious reader when we were child, or at least that’s how I remember it. But as is the way with younger siblings, I wanted to do whatever she did.

So I read.

And I didn’t stop.

The shape of literature

Literature has shaped my life in the most all-encompassing way. So many books have affected me greatly that it would be impossible to recount them all. Occasionally I am reminded of one of the earlier ones and am drawn back into the nostalgia of being truly shaken by that book.

Yesterday I remembered Exodus by Julie Bertagna. It was published in 2002 and I must’ve read it shortly after. I think it was set by my English teacher at school – a remarkable man, at the time younger than I am now, and utterly dedicated to getting children to love books.

He gave us books you would never had expected to find in schools back then. Challenging books that absorbed and rocked us. Some controversial enough for the reading list to be sent to parents first.

This is what we needed. Someone who cared.

The list goes on

I remember loving The Day of the Triffids as a child. I remember lying tucked up in my sleeping bag on camping trips, my mother reading us The Hobbit in nightly installments. I read everything I could. I read Catcher but it was Salinger’s Franny and Zooey that really stuck with me. My copy is 13 years old and I still read it sometimes.

I tore through Josie Dew‘s books and Ffyona Campbell‘s – borrowing them from my mother’s bookshelf. Lost in stories of travel and adventure and brute physical exertion. I picked up Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson just a few years ago, never one to leave an enigmatically titled book of travel stories on a bookshop shelf – even if the Canadians do tax their books.

I read every A. M. Homes novel and short story while sailing and forced a few down the throats of my friends. I’ve read the majority of J. G. Ballard‘s books – some multiple times. They’re probably amongst my most suggested.

I read Dracula after Ellen MacArthur’s first book and before Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. There has never been much theme – I’ve just read what I find. I almost always finish although War and Peace has so far defeated me, as has Tolkein’s Silmarillion.

I fell in love with Baudrillard through America and Bryson through The Lost ContinentI read White Noise by DeLillo at university and now have a sketch of his face framed in my room by the artist of Badly Drawn Authors.

Books contain entire worlds

I just love books. Fiction, non-fiction – hell, I even love a good picture book, especially if it’s by Oliver JeffersLogicomix was the first graphic novel I really became absorbed in – telling the story of Bertrand Russell through entertaining cartoons and I would absolutely not be who I am if it wasn’t for the genius of Calvin and Hobbes.

Tomorrow my own book will be published. I still find it impossible to believe I have a publisher and a book. It seems insane that I could’ve created something that will sit on bookshelves.

But it’s another life-changing book for me that will join a very long list. Except this time I won’t have to struggle to remember the author’s name.

 

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In bed with the atlantic