When I was little, from the time when my parents got divorced, up until my Mum married my step-dad we were pretty poor. I’d say that was a time span of about 4 years from being two until I was about six. Now when I say poor, I mean exactly that. I remember our boiler breaking, and us having no money to fix it. Which meant no heating, or hot water. Keep in mind this was the early 90’s, so for most folks running hot water was a regular feature of life. We didn’t have money to go places and do things, and when my Mum wasn’t working, it was just the two of us. We didn’t have money for treats and luxuries, but we did have one thing … books.
We always had books. I don’t know how old I was when I learnt to read, but I know I could read before I started school and I could write a fair chunk too. All because we spent most of our time cuddled up together reading. I remember the winters very clearly because we’d pile all the covers onto the bed, create a little nest and just sit and read together for what felt like days on end. Maybe it was, maybe it was thirty minutes, it was over thirty years ago now, so the memories are prone to be slightly off!
When I think back over all my memories of being little, including the ones were money became less of an issue so adventures were had and toys were plentiful, those days of having nothing but my Mum and books are some of my favourites. As I grew up my love of books did not falter, I read endlessly as a youth and I read all sorts.
I will admit though, I’m not hell-bent on reading all the classics I can or those books that people say you absolutely ‘must read’. The number of times I’ve told someone I love to read and they’ve rattled off a list of things I’m bound to have read and I’ve maybe perused one of the titles before getting bored. There are however a few books that I love that seems to satisfy people’s desire for everyone to have read a certain selection of books.
My first ever job was in a bookshop, I did my work experience there and they told me to go back when I was 16 and I could have a weekend job. I worked in the children’s department every Saturday and Sunday and spent all my wages on books and CD’s. My book collection became ridiculous, but being entirely occupied by books most of the time was wonderful.
In secondary school, we were tasked with reading both Jane Eyre and Tess of the D’urbevilles. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. My copies of these books were the only ones that looked as if they had been opened when we went to our English classes and I was constantly pawing at them and making notes. After those, I voluntarily read Wuthering Heights which I also love, but attempts at any further reading from the authors of those books or similar led to nowhere exciting.
School did, however, bring other books my way. We did a peculiar syllabus for our history GCSE which included learning about early American history, the history of medicine and the history of China. It was fascinating and we got the recommended reading list before the summer holidays, and by the time we returned to school, I’d read the lot, because yes I was a total boffin and loved being the teacher’s pet.
One of the books I read is a book I have returned to more than once … Wild Swans. It is at times a difficult book to read, it shines a light on a culture that is very far removed from what I have experienced, but I couldn’t put it down once I began reading it and once I got into audiobooks I listened to it as well and it was well worth revisiting. If you have never read it, I highly recommend it. I love books that open my eyes to things I could never encounter just living my life the way I do.
That said the majority of the books I read are fiction, and when I say read, I predominantly listen to them these days. This means I get to read whilst doing other things, which includes a few hours each morning when I’m at muggle work. One of the authors I started reading in later life is Stephen King, who divides opinion, not only between who does and doesn’t like his work but also opinions differ wildly amongst those who do enjoy his books.
I read 11.22.63 and I was hooked, not only on the book, which I bloody loved but also by Stephen King’s writing style. One of the criticisms I often hear from folks about Stephen King is he doesn’t always do endings well, I do see where they’re coming from, but I totally disagree that it impacts how well his books read. For me getting to end and having a big reveal or twist is not the point of reading a Stephen King book, the point for me is going on a journey with amazing characters and stories I could never have dreamt up on my own. I love how his tales unfold and how his words come together and I’ve been slowly making my way through his back catalogue.
Not only that but as a writer I find Stephen King fascinating, his book On Writing is also worth a read. This is a book I have also read more than once and I will be likely flicking through it again before my Eroticon speech in March, because Stephen King and a few other writers have been incredibly inspiring to me in terms of how I embrace and nurture my creativity.
I mentioned earlier, that I listen to audiobooks when I’m at my muggle job. The word muggle of course coming from another set of books that I am a huge fan of … Harry Potter. Now, over the years, as with anything that is popular, people have started to find cause to tell us why we should not be supporting the Harry Potter books or J.K Rowling as an author, I’ve read a lot of that information and I’m not saying the books are perfect but I still think they’re brilliant storytelling and they have captured my imagination on many levels and I have read the paper books through once, but I have listened to the audiobooks more times than I can count. We talk about self-care a lot in the sex blogging community, Harry Potter is a huge part of my self-care and those audiobooks have been my lullaby on many restless nights.
All this to say, I couldn’t possibly pick one book, there are so many books that have moved me, excited me, enthralled me and whisked me away on adventures as I read them. I read for the same reason I write … feeling. I write in the hopes I will make people feel something, and I read to feel too. If a book doesn’t stir something up inside me then it isn’t a book for me.
I could probably go on and on about books I’ve read and why I liked them, but I’ve got to end this post at some point, so instead I’ve had a little think and I’m going to list ten books, in no particular order, and excluding books and authors I’ve already mentioned, that have at some point in my life filled me with feelings and carved themselves a placed inside my soul.
- Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
- The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka
- These is My Words by Nancy Turner
- The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
- Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
- The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I read about half that list more than once, and the other half I’m sure will be revisited in due course. Some of those books I stumbled upon by accident, others I read because I was inclined towards the author first. A book like The Cement Garden is perhaps not going to be to everyone’s taste, but Good Omens is a work of freakin’ genius and I honestly think it would brighten everyone’s lives to have read it. I genuinely laughed out loud whilst listening to it and my life is richer for having done so.
I really can’t wait to see what books you decide to share with May and I for this week’s Food for Thought. Remember all prompts run from Tuesday morning until late Sunday night (GMT), so there are plenty of days to get involved for those of you who are able and inclined to do so. Also if you have any prompt ideas for 2020 let us know, or if you would like to do the spotlight post one week then we’d love to hear from you.