Thursday, 2 March 2017

Celebrating World Book Day, Collaboratively

Happy World Book Day! Books are a huge part of my life, and I really wanted to do something to celebrate the day! So I asked a few of my favourite bloggers to share with us some of the books that have had an impact on them in some way. We talk about the books that got us into reading, one (or a couple more) of our favourite books, and a book that changed us. So read on for some book recommendations!

Suzy of From the Fringe

Suzy Marie

The BFG, The Book Thief, Gender Trouble

The Book That Got Suzy Into Reading

I can't remember the first book I ever read. In fact, I'm terrible with firsts in general because, at the time, I didn't realise that the first song I bought, or the first film I watched would be telling of the time I lived later in adult life. Anyway, I just remember that myself and words formed an inseparable bond pretty much from the get go; something which hasn't changed an inch twenty-eight years later. As a child, my home was full of magnificent books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar [by Eric Carle] and Dear Zoo [by Rod Campbell]. However, I really vividly remember being curled up on a beanbag (holla at me nineties children), holed away in my bedroom completely entranced by Roald Dahl's The BFG as a memory of early book-reading. What a gorgeous story that is! I'd love to write something as beautifully magical as that one day.

One of Suzy's Favourite Book

Later in life, I was bowled over by Markus Zusak's The Book Thief as it was completely unlike anything I'd ever read previously. Reading it in my late teenage years, hungrily lapping up the pages at my desk in my university bedroom (inevitably ignoring a deadline), I couldn't remember having felt so emotional about a book before. It's stunning; if you haven't read it then you must!

A Book That Changed Suzy

Finally, I remember reading Gender Trouble by Judith Butler in my early twenties and feeling all of a sudden like the world made sense to me. It was as though a cloud had been lifted and everything around me suddenly felt clear and obvious. For a person's words to have that much power over me was unreal and I've never lost the magnitude of that.
World Book Day is a lovely reason to celebrate the hundreds of books that have touched my soul over the years and are the reason that I choose to articulate my own stories in words today.

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Amy of Amy Elizabeth

Amy Elizabeth

First Term at Malory Towers, The Color Purple, Full Frontal Feminism

The Book That Got Amy Into Reading

I wish I could remember! My Mum read to me a lot when I was very small (I believe Postman Pat was a favourite...) - so much so that she didn't believe that I had learnt to read; she thought I had just memorised the words! I've always been a big reader, and I think Enid Blyton was my favourite as a child - I was equally obsessed with Mallory Towers, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Famous Five. All of which I am very excited to share with my children when the time comes!

One of Amy's Favourite Book

It's hard to pin down a favourite as there are so many books I love for different reasons, but the one that always springs to mind when this question comes up is The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I read it when I was about 17, and it was so different from anything I'd encountered before, and so incredibly moving. I eventually wrote my A-Level coursework on it, and as is so often the case for me, delving into all the intricacies and themes just showed my how rich and powerful it truly is as a piece of work. I was also discovering feminism at the same time, and this book really influenced my thinking and opened me up to some important ideas that have remained close to me every since. I have a copy with my notes in from that time, and it's one of the things I would save in a fire - I just love it so much, and I discover something new every time I pick it up.

A Book That Changed Amy

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti. I'm not sure what drove me to pick this up, as I don't think feminism was anywhere near as widely talked about 10 years ago, but reading it absolutely changed my life. I remember feeling so angry as Jessica Valenti broke down the stats on rape, domestic violence and abuse, and just absolutely bursting with the desire to go and change it. I've been a feminist ever since, and it has been integral to my life and my relationships, and to my sense of self. It is one of the first words I will use to describe myself, and I am unapologetic about it. A few years after reading this book, and many others, I went on to study Gender, Sexuality and Queer Theory for my Master's degree - and that definitely wouldn't have happened if I hadn't originally picked up Full Frontal Feminism.

Check out Amy on:
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Grace of Almost Amazing Grace

Grace Latter

The Bad Beginning, How to Be a Woman, One Day

The Books That Got Grace Into Reading

The book – or rather, the series – that first got me into reading could be either Angels Unlimited by Annie Dalton... or Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I cannot be sure which, all I know is they were both permanently positioned in pride of place during my later years at primary school. Not long after this I moved on to the excellent Saffy's Angel series by Hilary Mckay. I fell so in love with those characters, that whole quirky family and their mad antics – Saffy stowing away to Italy to find clues about her mysterious past, Caddy's endless flapping during her dramatic driving lessons, Indigo's forming of a 'pack' of close friends (most of them being his family), and Permanent Rose's general determined state...and all of them painting a gigantic mural on their kitchen wall, just because. I also started reading the His Dark Materials trilogy at school, and sadly did not finish it – but now the new Phillip Pullman project has been announced, you can bet I'll be getting straight back on that bandwagon and completing the epic journey so many of my dearest friends have been on and raved about!

Grace's Favourite Books

My favourite book changes on a regular basis, but one constant seems to be How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I think this is because it was the first of a (now very long) list of non-fics that I read and hit me right between the boobs, it was so important.

Also I discovered my new favourite YA read last year – Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. Her style of writing is something I cannot quite pinpoint, and I mean that in the best way possible. The ending of that book made me weep/laugh/weep some more, most hysterically.

A Book That Changed Grace

The book that I think properly changed me has to be One Day [by David Nicholls], because it was one of the first books to genuinely make me feel all of everything. I re-read it recently, fearing I'd be 'over it' the second time around...and yet it spoke to me again, in a whole new way. When I first read it I'd just turned 19, just finished my first year in university, and I dreamed of a graduation as eventful as Emma and Dex's – and perhaps a fun-filled but treacherously turbulent post-grad relationship like they had. Re-reading last autumn, at 23, having graduated and moved back home and into temporary employment, searching for that thing, that experience, that life story that I craved and others seemed to find so broke and mended my heart yet again. When I first read it I was reminded of how much I love fiction, and re-reading it made me even more determined to write something as moving someday.

Check out Grace on:
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And Finally, Me

Pawn of Prophecy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Only Ever Yours

The Book That Got Me Into Reading

I was read to as a young child, and I remember, as an older child, my dad reading to me and my brother before bed White Fang by Jack London. I remember really loving reading The Magic Finger and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl at primary school, listening to the audio book at the same time. But other than those two books, I never really enjoyed reading in general. I'd do it because I had to, but it wasn't a hobby, and I'd always much rather be doing something else. My parents gave my brother and I the first three books in the Harry Potter series for Christmas one year, and I read them, and of course, completely adored them. But I considered it a fluke. I liked those books, but I didn't like reading itself. Until my Dad, knowing how much I enjoyed Harry Potter, convinced me to read Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings. The first in a fantasy series with magic and a struggle of good versus evil, as with Harry Potter, Dad really thought I would love it. For weeks if not months, he would try again and again to get me to read it, telling me the basic plot in an attempt to get me interested. In the end I gave in and decided to read it just to get him to stop going on. And it changed everything.

Reading Pawn of Prophecy, it was like a switch was flipped in my mind. It captured my imagination unlike anything else I'd read before. The huge cast of characters, the world building involving so many different races with different traits, the magic and the gods and the world's own legends. Oh my god, I was completely captivated by Garion's story. I raced through it, turning each page in a state of awe and wonder. I read the whole series in a matter of weeks, which was unheard of, and I was so desperate for more. The scope of the story, from Pawn of Prophecy to Enchanter's End Game, the fifth book in the Belgariad series, was incredible to me - even though I'd started Harry Potter. I went on to the second follow-on series, the Mallorean, eagerly, and when I'd finished that, I was after more recommendations from Dad. I'd raid his bookshelves for more high fantasy to sink my teeth in. I had completely fallen in love with reading, and I've never looked back since. I know some high fantasy purists have some issues with David Eddings' books, but I will always treasure them.

My Favourite Books

I have so many! The aim was to just discuss one favourite, but I'm going to touch on three authors. Have to, I'm sorry. The first is Laini Taylor, author of crossover fantasy series The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Strange the Dreamer (which isn't out until 28th March this year, but as a book blogger, I got to read a proof copy early). Taylor is a master storyteller. She has a way of weaving words together that is so completely enchanting. I have read a huge number of books since reading Pawn of Prophecy, but Taylor never fails to bring back those feelings I felt when I read Pawn of Prophecy for the first time. The awe, the wonder, the complete and unadulterated joy! Reading Taylor's books is like discovering the wonder of reading reading for the first time all over again. It's an incredible writer who can invoke such feelings while reading, and completely dazzle you with their storytelling time and again. Reading Taylor's books feels like coming home.

A Book (or Two) That Changed Me

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill is the book that made me a feminist. This book completely opened my eyes to the patriarchal society we live in, by only exaggerating our society a small amount. In this dystopian society, female babies no longer survive in the womb, so girls are genetically engineered. And if you're genetically engineering girls, why not make them beautiful? And why not put them in a school that teaches them how to be the perfect woman, and how to please men? And then let the men choose who will be a companion (or wife), a concubine, or a chastity (a teacher at the school). It looks at society's impossible beauty ideals and the competitiveness between women encouraged by the media. It's an incredible novel, and one that made me realise we have a really big problem.

From Only Ever Yours, I went on to Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole, which I have discussed on the blog previously. This book really made me think about how I act, and if the actions I take are because that's what women are "supposed" to do, or because I want to. I actually became a whole lot more aware of what I did, said, wore and so on because of this book, and made changes accordingly. Where Only Ever Yours made me a think, Girls Will Be Girls made me take action.

So they are our the books that mean something to us - though I may have gone on a teeny, tiny bit! I can't help it, I just love these books so much! Have you read any of these? What books mean something to you? Do let us know!

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1 comment:

  1. Adore that all of us have books that made us feminist on our lists! I've also just nipped over to follow Amy as I feel like we'll get on famously so thanks for introducing me to her haha. This is such a lovely feature Jo! Thanks for having me! :)