While I’ve always been a bookworm, there have definitely been times in my life where I’ve been more into reading than others, so this post is dedicated to the books that made me fall in love with reading – that first time when I was a child, but also all the times after that.
Those first books…the bedtime stories read to me by my dad every night
1. The Elves and the Shoemaker
This book had to be first on my list because, at one point, I’m pretty sure my dad could recite it from memory. Like, I requested this book every night. Or, at the very least, every other night.
In case you haven’t read this book (In which case, I’m so, so sorry you didn’t experience this masterpiece as a child), The Elves and the Shoemaker follows a – well – shoemaker who is struggling to keep a his business afloat. One night, he leaves cut leather out on a bench before going to sleep, only to wake the next morning to a pair of shoes. This carries on for some nights, until the shoemaker – now quite rich from the elves’ marvellous craftsmanship – stays up during to night and sees the elves making him shoes. The shoemaker and his wife sew them new little clothes, leaving them out for the elves at night. The elves are gleeful at their new clothes, and, after leaving the shop, they never return; but the shoemaker’s business continues to prosper.
Even writing that paragraph gave me all the nostalgic feels.
2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Okay, I’m about to get controversial here, because when I think of epic childhood fantasy books, I don’t think of Harry Potter. For me, HP came later on, when I was older. I was still a fan – my first memory of the pictures is seeing The Philosopher’s Stone – but the books weren’t read to me at bedtime. Once I outgrew the likes of The Elves and the Shoemaker, my favourite bedtime story was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can still remember being awed at my dad’s ability to read ahead in a sentence – it totally blew my little mind when he would complete a sentence whilst looking at me. And still, to this day, whenever I read a sentence out loud without having to look at it, I think of that moment. I don’t know why; it’s just the little things that stick out, isn’t it?
The first books that broke my heart
3. My Sister’s Keeper
Okay, I’m aware that this isn’t a children’s book, and I honestly don’t understand why, as a nine year old, I would want to read a book like this. All I know is that there was a scene where their mam showed her breasts to somebody, making me deeply uncomfortable, and that the ending completely destroyed me. It’s been eleven years, and I’m still not over it.
4. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Jesus wept, this book. This book was the first ever book I took out of my secondary school library in year seven, and I definitely underestimated it. I vividly remember finishing it and then just lying facedown on my bed, crying. It was terrible.
The book that made me love YA fiction…and also gave me my very first book boyfriend
5. Hunting Lila
This is one of those books that I sort of want to reread just to see if it’s actually as good as I remember, but sort of don’t because I want to keep the magic intact. Hunting Lila follows a girl with the ability to move things by looking at them, and who struggles to keep her power to herself. There’s also a boy – Lila’s older brother’s bestie, Alex – who pretty much made me have a crush on every single boy named Alex following it. Like, as soon as I found out someone was called Alex, it would automatically make them more attractive just because of this book.
The books that made me fall in love with holiday book shopping
This freaking book had me obsessed. Totally. Obsessed. I flew through this series whilst on holiday at Cornwall, and while I can’t really remember the entire story, I can remember being completely enchanted by their world and the writing. Like with Hunting Lila, I’m sort of nervous about doing a reread in case they’re not quite as good as I remembered.
7. Finding Audrey
Something happens when I walk past a WHSmiths or a Waterstones; while my dad hears cheese scones and mince pies calling his name, I hear book shops calling mine. And that’s exactly how I ended up in WHSmiths, surrounded by books, despite being in one hell of a book slump. I took a chance on Finding Audrey because of the pretty yellow cover, and it totally paid off. It’s a sweet book about a girl with crippling anxiety, and I honestly flew through it. It definitely got me out of my book slump, and I still think about it.
The books that I discovered, read and reread…over and over and over again for two straight years
8. Harry Potter
Harry Potter was pretty much my life from the age of twelve to fourteen. I occasionally tried to branch out and read something else, but nothing quite fulfilled me like HP did. I would read them, over and over again, whilst listening to the film soundtracks to drown out my very muggle family.
So what got me out of the Harry Potter cycle? It wasn’t a book. As my anorexia progressed, as I lost weight to the point where I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair, as I sank into depression, I lost my ability to read. I couldn’t finish a book, couldn’t focus on anything. And, for someone who lived books for so long, it was terrible, and I thought I was never going to get it back again.
The book that made me realise I could read and enjoy books again
9. The Queen of the Tearling
This book will always mean a lot to me, because it was one of the younger, slightly nerdy nursing assistants that brought it in for me to read. He hadn’t read it yet, but he knew I liked Emma Watson, who was due to star in the film adaptation of the book. So, he brought it in, and I started reading it, not expecting to love it, because I was only just emerging from a dark place, and I hadn’t so much as touched a book for over a year. But it hooked me, and I loved it so much, and gushed so much to the nursing assistant who brought it in for me, that he went out and bought the sequel for me. I mean, what a sweetheart. I owe that dude a lot. Because then I went on to read Game of Thrones, To Kill a Mockingbird, effectively keeping me going until I was discharged from hospital.
The book that reminded me that books used to be my safe haven – and can be again
10. A Court of Thorns and Roses
So, after I was discharged from hospital, I sort of fell off the reading wagon. I was so focused on finding my feet at home that I tried to keep myself as distracted and busy as possible; taking a shit ton of baths, doing jigsaws all the time, baking, walking my Dalmatian – Heidi – and going shopping. But there’s only so much of that you can do, and I felt very lost and overwhelmed. I remember scrolling through the Amazon Prime Now app and coming across A Court of Mist and Fury, which had just been released. So I took a chance, downloaded A Court of Thorns and Roses and I completely fell in love. Not only with Feyre and her world and Sarah’s writing, but also with being able to read and to concentrate and to feel excited about the day, which hadn’t happened for me in a while. I got out of bed and I read and when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it. A Court of Thorns and Roses reignited my love of books, and I’ll be forever grateful for it, because it opened up so many worlds for me. I started trawling through Goodreads looking for similar books, and I’ve discovered so many gems, so many characters that inspire me and help me to face my fears and be brave.
So there you go – my life in books! I would love it if any of you wanted to put your own spin on this post – tag me in it or send me the link because I would love to read them! 😊
Happy reading, friends!