The book that changed my life

I know some of you are prolific readers but is there a book that you feel really changed your life? A book that made you decide what you wanted to do or helped you to be who you are?

It might be a treasured childhood book, a coming-of-age story, a classic novel or even a ‘how to’ book, a book that made you think or one that made you laugh… Whatever it is, tell me about “the book that changed your life”!

Here’s an example from Stormbreaker writer Anthony Horowitz:

It would have to be Dr No by Ian Fleming. It was 1967. I was about 12, trapped in the weird and miserable bubble of prep-school life where my experience of sexual desire and violence edging on sadism was largely restricted to my French teacher. The book introduced me to a whole new world. Even the Jamaican setting seemed impossibly exotic.

This one is about The Faraway Tree and it is from Roald Dahl’s granddaughter and writer in her own right Sophie Dahl:

It was the first book I read by myself when I was about six. It made me long for bedtime, even though it was summer and still light outside. The Faraway Tree was buried deep in an enchanted wood, at whose edge lived the children Bessie, Fanny, Jo and later, cousin Dick (in his new PC incarnation unfortunately renamed Rick). One day the children stumble upon a magical tree inhabited by a clutch of fairy folk, among them Moon Face, Silky the fairy, Dame Washalot, the Angry Pixie and the Saucepan Man, a creature rendered deaf as a post because of the constant clang of the saucepans he wears. As with most Enid Blyton books, food is integral to the story, and the children are incessantly eating delicious sweets and biscuits and having picnics. As an immensely greedy child, my plump imagination was on overload due to the graphic descriptions of said feasts, and it was probably my first exposure to food writing, which has stuck with me ever since.

The Enchanted Wood fueled my imagination, appetite (for food and reading), and perhaps most importantly, uncovered a lifelong voracious leaning towards happy endings.

For writer Jacqueline Wilson it was Lolita:

I’d have to choose Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, which I first read when I was 13. My dad bought it eagerly but gave up on it a few chapters in. My mum had a go then, but found Nabokov’s baroque style irritatingly impenetrable. I asked to read it and my parents said absolutely not. I didn’t waste my breath arguing. I simply waited till I had the opportunity to whip the distinctive yellow dustwrapper off Lolita and rejacket it with the Catherine Cookson novel I was reading. I spent the next week reading in the bath, in bed, at playtimes, at school. It was a total revelation to me. I hadn’t realised you could use language in such a rich and elegant way, and I was amazed at the subject matter. I thought it the most wonderful and exciting book I’d ever read. I realised that literature could be outrageous and mind-stretching and utterly extraordinary.



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