Three books which will never leave me
Happy World Book Day!
Since I was a child, I have always been a massive fan of reading. I love the escapism that reading provides and the ability to almost have a mini movie play out in your head. I invest in characters and stories, their emotions and beliefs, their thoughts and values. I truly believe that reading helped shape me into the person that I am today.
We all have books that have stayed with us, and some people even have one favourite book, but (indecisive as ever) I cannot simply pick one. I do have some honorable mentions in the name of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Sarah Dessen's Just Listen and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. There are 3 books however that have stuck with me for reasons more than the fact that I love the story or the character.
Perks of being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
Perks tells the story of Charlie, a socially awkward teenager who views life from the sidelines. When he makes new friends in the vibrant characters of Sam and her brother Patrick his life begins to change. He is welcomed into a friendship group which is fuelled by love, fun and understanding. However as his new friends prepare to leave for college, a year ahead of him, his inner sadness threatens to overshadow his new found confidence. Old wounds resurface from the past and we see Charlie learning to rely on others and ask for help as he tries to make peace with his past.
Perks is one of my favourite books because of the language. It isn’t fancy or overly complicated but it resonated with me on a deeper level. I felt like I understood Charlie and his thoughts, despite the fact I am much more confident than he is (which is saying something!). It is a coming of age book that I think every teenager should read. The topics touched upon can be dark and complicated, but ultimately the overall lesson is that if you're true to yourself, you will find your place in the world and be surrounded by those who truly love you.
“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar stuck with me for this reason - even if it seems like you have everything you ever wished for, happiness is an internal project. Esther Greenwood dreams of being a writer and after being accepted on a prestigious internship for a fashion magazine in New York, she begins to struggle with her identity. The Bell Jar deals with the subject of young female depression in ways which was revolutionary in 1963 and it continues to break boundaries. Plath is a genius for her ability to craft sentences which truly paint a picture in your head. Written semi-autobiographically, and knowing the tragic end of Plath’s life, the book is even more poignant. This is a book I would recommend to anyone who has experienced a crisis of identity, particularly as a teenage girl. “I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.”
Jane Eyre is a first person narrative novel, told from the perspective of Jane. This classic novel covers her life from childhood to adulthood and the struggles and obstacles that she faces. Jane is such a well known character in literary history for her determination, courage and even sharp wit in the face of adversity. I am a sucker for classic literature but Jane Eyre really stands out to me because of her 'badass' attitude. This book has featured widely in debates around feminist literature, with critics all over the world arguing their viewpoints. To me, Jane Eyre is considered a feminist piece of literature because of her fierce curiosity, determination to make a place for herself in the world and her fight to survive through poverty, abuse and starvation. I have to admit the ending was a bit of a let down, but who am I to judge Charlotte Bronte?
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.”
I hope you have all had a wonderful World Book Day and have been reminded of your favourite books from childhood, the teenage years and adulthood. I believe that reading is important for our development throughout life, and I cannot help but envy those who have published books in their lifetime.
Which books have shaped your life?