Monday, 26 June 2017

The Story of Reading

It seems fitting to write a post about my love of reading on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone. Twenty years ago I was only one years old. A small baby who had no idea as she grew up she would fall in love with reading and the written word.

J.K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson are the authors I immediately think of when I talk about my love of reading. That's where it all began. It began by reading the Harry Potter series as a 6/7 year old, and The Story of Tracy Beaker.

Harry Potter has been the only constant in my life, as have most books I've devoured. Harry Potter though, is a large part of my childhood. I remember my aunt buying me the books. I remember going to see Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets in the cinema with my then best friend, and being terrified at the scene with the basilisk (We sat front row.) I remember going to see all the films, and dragging my first boyfriend to The Deathly Hallows Pt 2. Every other child around me talking about Harry and all the magic. Reading the books together. Girls finding a role model in Hermione. Dressing up as Harry Potter characters on World Book Day (I dressed as a Dementor, apparently I was an odd child.) Deciding what house you belonged to. Running around the playground with a makeshift wand, made of sticks and sellotape.

I had the books. I loved the films. I adored Hermione's hair and ambition. I adored Harry's bravery. I adored Ron's humour. I still do. I love everything Harry Potter. My friends and family regularly look to me when HP is mentioned. I'm prone to dropping a HP reference. I love re watching the films, especially when they are aired on TV at Christmas time. My copies of the books are one of my prized possessions and have their own shelf on my bookcase. And eventually, when it's my chance to have children the series will most definitely forced upon them.


The series sparked my love for reading. I owe a lot of my life so far, my goals, ambitions and dreams to the series that started it all. Reading and writing are my one true loves. English was always my strongest point during school, and I'm pursing it further with my creative writing degree at university.

Reading brings me adventure, safety, escape and happiness, among many other things. I spent a lot of my school years back and forth to the library taking out all the books I could, and wishing to be old enough to reach the higher years shelves. Even now I will leave the public library with a bag overflowing with books, I haven't changed one bit. Sitting on the beanbags in primary school, and the fuzzy carpets surrounded by shelves of books that looked like huge skyscrapers.

I turn to the safety of a book in almost any situation. I like to carry a book with me wherever I go.

"Why have you brought a book with you?"  


Comfort is found in the pages of a book, in the stories, in the characters and in the words. My own bookcase, my own collection brings me immense happiness and satisfaction. Visiting bookshops and browsing the books is one of my favourite things to do, even if I have no money to buy a new book, it's the being there that means something to me. Books are my home. They are my pride and joy. Nothing makes me happier than tucking myself up in bed and losing myself in a story.

The power of language, and words constructed together beautifully is the reason why I write. Why my passion is writing and how sometimes explaining why I love it so much is unfathomable to some. A family member asked me recently how I can just sit down and write a story. I just can. That's how. It's my natural instinct to write. I have the ability to turn everything into a story: a conversation overheard on the bus, a beautiful stranger, a song or an emotion.

Writing is in my blood. Writing is how I convey my feelings. Writing is how I feel happiness on the lowest days.

Reading is my escape from the cruel world outside of my duvet. Reading is learning about other cultures and countries, and other types of people.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Books, books and books

Being home for three weeks over Easter meant I kinda forgot about my deadlines and dived into a pile of books. I bought books and I went to the local library, which is brand spanking new and I could have left with baskets of books. I stuck with only three books.

Over the three weeks home, and a couple of weeks back at uni, I've read five books. I'm definitely on target for my book goal this year, currently reading my 24th book... Girl, I gotta serious book problem! and I've realised it even more so now I've moved back home for summer and organised my book collection back on my shelves.

Some of my latest book reads include

The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

This book delivers stunning prose, obviously it does, have you listened to Kate's performance poetry? There's something so beautiful about a poet writing fiction, the traditional story form is there but poetry sneaks in so beautifully. Set in London, Becky, Harry and Leon are navigating their way through adulthood. The term 'nitty gritty' comes to mind: drugs, sex, relationships and financial problems. Kate's voice comes through on every page, it's so strong.


The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

YA novel about Flora who is a teenage girl living a sheltered life after an incident that left her with amnesia.  Flora kisses her best friend's boyfriend Drake at his leaving party, miraculously she remembers it. She then goes on to have a ridiculously unrealistic adventure to Norway to find Drake, who she is now convinced is the love of her life. For me, young adult fiction often deals with issues young readers can relate to, but The One Memory of Flora Banks completely misses the point. It could have been stronger, IMO falling in love will not cure medical problems.

I Hate the Internet by Jarett Kobek

I loved this SO much. I borrowed it from the library, and devoured it with many laughs. A satire about our use of the internet in the 21st century. Shockingly accurate and hilarious. Covers internet culture, feminism, politics and pop culture, and how social media can affect someone's life. If you're looking for something oddly light-hearted, and humorous, this might be your next book.


The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett 

Found this to be extremely thought provoking. A very important piece of non-fiction about feminism and how women are represented in the media. It discusses advertising in magazines, and how competing magazines contradict each other. I stopped buying magazines a year or so ago, they are an unhealthy consumption, especially the celebrity gossip ones. The messages are misleading, and the essays reveal the reality of media representation, for both women and men. This book discusses lad culture, rape, dieting, fashion, sex and many more. The list is endless.

The last one I read over Easter was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

My most anticipated book of the year so far, and the one I've seen everyone talk about on Twitter.  A young adult novel based on the movement Black Lives Matter. The story is of Starr Carter living in two different worlds: the poor neighbourhood she lives and grew up in, and the fancy prep school she goes to outside of her neighbourhood. Her best friend from childhood Khalil is shot by the police, and it all starts from there - following Starr's journey for justice. It's brutal, shocking and emotional, and if you weren't already aware of the justice system then you will soon. If there is one book you read this year, make sure it's The Hate U Give. It is a powerful story setting the bar for young adult fiction.

What have you been reading?