For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to read; books and the escapism and solace they provide are so important to me. I’ve got to live vicariously through so many characters and deposit my worries onto them and the imaginary settings they come from. I’ve seen people express a similar sentiment in regard to films and TV – there’s a relief that comes with entering a fictional world, especially when you know it’s waiting for you after a hard day.
Being one of the youngest of around twenty grandchildren meant that luckily, I had a lot of children’s books passed down to me from family members. I was obsessed with Enid Blyton as a kid and I made it a point to read every single one of her collections, trying (and succeeding) to solve the mysteries and crimes in the novels before the characters did. Instead of genres, I went through phases with the authors I was reading; after finishing every book of Enid’s I could get in print, I moved onto Roald Dahl, then Jacqueline Wilson. Despite the controversy he has faced in recent years, I believe Roald’s fiction remains thought-provoking and relevant in the present day. It’s easy to pick which characters to root for upon reading his works and it’s even easier to interpret the underlying messages within each of his stories; at the beginning of The Twits, there’s a passage about how kindness determines a person’s ‘loveliness’ regardless of their physical appearance. It’s still one of my favourite quotes to this day.
Studying English at University was an easy decision. I got to select periods of history that had always interested me, such as the Victorian and Tudor eras, and read the corresponding texts. The heftiest read over the three years was definitely Moby-Dick, which took me three weeks to finish. There’s certainly a strange pride that comes with telling people you’ve read a novel about whale anatomy.
"World Book Day comes and passes, sometimes with little acknowledgement from others. So, I wanted to change that and use the day as a means of starting up the conversation."
My love for reading has encouraged my enjoyment for writing over the years– taking five minutes out to journal the events of the day and how they made you feel sounds dull, but in reality, it has assisted me in setting targets and agendas for what I want to achieve. I undertook a creative writing module at University and it ended up being my favourite part of the course – we were given freedom to write any kind of short story or poem that we wanted. It’s usually other forms of media that spur me to write a poem or fictional piece; I often write from the perspective of my favourite fictional characters, which allows me to explore their decisions and intentions further than the source material.
I have so many memories of dressing up as my favourite fictional characters in school on World Book Day, it was a fun way of seeing what books your peers were connecting with. Now that I’ve left school, the day comes and passes, with little acknowledgement from others. So, I wanted to change that and use the day as a means of starting up the conversation of what kind of stories people are indulging in, be that through books, poems, audio or even video games.
I would love to hear about your favourite books. My current recommendation is An Island of Our Own by Sally Nicholl – it’s a young adult book told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl, Holly, who alongside her brothers Jonathan and Davy is navigating the death of her mother.