Saturday, 18 April 2015

A World Book Night Special: My Reading Journey

I have always been a reader. It has defined me, shaped me, and created the person I have become today. If you had told me when I was little that at 17, I would be reviewing books on my own blog and on the Huffington Post, I would not have been surprised in the least. Ever since I was younger, I have always known that books and reading would play a huge part in my future. 

Reading was one of the first things I learned to do. The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker was the first book I read at about 6 years old, closely followed by Teddy Robinson Stories by Joan G. Robinson. After my parents had tucked me up in bed at 7pm, I would grab my torch and read these until I fell asleep. I used to think that reading was one of the naughtiest and secretive things you could do. After reading and re-reading these books, I would trace the illustrations and write my own versions (probably the earliest fanfiction!) and write my name in felt tip in the inside cover, so everyone would know that these books belonged to me. This has remained a constancy; I am not more possessive about anything else in my life more than my books. 

There has never been a moment in my childhood where I have not been reading. I can think of a few hundred books that I can say that I have loved, but few books have changed me. There have been books that have challenged my way of thinking, books that have made me cry, made me laugh, made me look at myself a little differently. There have been few books that have actually changed me as a person. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has made me less scared of studying creative writing at university, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch has made me treasure my siblings more, She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick has taught me that it is okay, and sometimes better to be different.

But the book that has changed me? Villette by Charlotte Brontë. It is by far not the most popular and widely-acclaimed Brontë novel, not by a long shot. But when I read it last summer, it taught me so many things. It taught me that it's okay to challenge, and be scared by, religion. It taught me that improving yourself, whether academically or your sense image, is completely normal, and it takes time. It taught me that when you feel your most alone, you will always get through it, and it isn't about someone else helping you, it is about you helping yourself. And finally, it taught me that unrequited love is one of the most painful and soul-destroying emotions to ever be felt by a person. Villette has taught me to challenge the world around me, to always ask questions, and to always have a firm grasp on what I want from life. There is nothing in life that is more important in life than having a sense of direction, and a purpose.

I would love to hear your reading journey. Share it below!

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Until next time :)

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