Reading is an absolute pleasure that I never have enough time to do. When I was younger and had a seemingly un ending amount of free time, I loved nothing more than getting lost in a world of words. The feeling of belonging I always longed to find with my peers, I found between the pages of books that introduced me to worlds I would have never normally come into contact with. And as I took on university and went into the world of full time retail work whenever I was feeling lost I would find my solace in great books. Books have never let me down, books have never hurt me and books will always be there for me. As is said in one of my favourite plays and films The History Boys:
‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’
A good book can change your life. So here are some that have truly touched me in some way.
1). To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee.
I first read this book when I was 14 years old. That first time I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the court case storyline and found myself focusing on how much of myself I saw in Scout. I have since read and re-read it at least half a dozen times at differing times of my life and I’d like to think I now understand the varying nuances of this fantastic story, but still I can never read it without Scout’s character resonating with me. In Scout I found a like minded soul whose voice always feels like its echoing a version of myself that still lives in the child in me. From the themes of racial injustice to childhood innocence to gender roles and many more there is something in this epic piece of literature that will excite and inspire anyone. If you haven’t yet you must read this book, it will touch your heart in a way you can not even begin to imagine.
2). Regeneration – Pat Barker.
This is one of the few books I have been required to study, that was not ruined by the analysis process. Set in Craiglockhart War Hospital in World War 1, it tells the story of soldiers with shell shock (what we would call post-traumatic stress disorder) and the radical therapeutic treatment they received. In it we hear stories of fictional characters such as Billy Prior and we also get fictionalised accounts of War Poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The novel deals primarily with the idea of the effect that war has on the psychology of the soldiers, specifically the hugely damaging effects of the trench warfare of World War 1. Told with harrowing beauty this book really makes you think about what we have put our soldiers through.
3). Wild: A Journey fro Lost to Found – Cheryl Strayed.
I powered through this book on a holiday in Ibiza. I opened it up and was riveted. Telling the story of a woman who drops her life to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and through the trial and tribulations finds her way back to herself. If you’ve ever felt like you’re floundering, or that you don’t know what you’re doing with your life or that you are just completely lost this book will undoubtedly kick start you on your way back to path. It did for me.
4). Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer.
An expansion of an article about Christopher McCandless, the book tells the story of how this young man ended up dead in a bus on the Stampede Trail in Alaska.
Chris McCandless’ life long quest for truth is documented alongside tales of other liked minded maverick truth seekers. It will make you reevaluate everything you believe and how you view society and the way it works. It will make you want to find your own truth.
But listen to his lesson, no matter how disillusioned you feel with the world ‘happiness only real when shared.’
SPECIAL MENTION: The Wild Truth – Carnie McCandless.
Written by Chris McCandless’ sister it informs Into The Wild as it fills in the gaps she asked Jon Krakauer to leave. It also details her own inspiring story of overcoming struggle with no one to help her but herself.
So, what books should I read next? I’d love to hear about the books that have touched you.
Thanks for reading. Speak soon – Sally 🙂