I genuinely think a book can alter the course of your life. For children uninterested in reading, the right book can open up an infinity of worlds, trigger new emotions and enable children to think outside the parameters of their own life and their parents’ views.
A book is a companion to those who find it hard to socialise. You simply don’t feel lonely when you’re reading quality books. There’s no pressure to respond; to say the right thing. Even the super confident can struggle conversing in this climate of political correctness. The older generation are under pressure to remove vocab and phrases they’ve used for decades. Their language might be narrow, racist, sexist; unacceptable but not easy to delete when you’ve been fed it from infancy. So I could see some of the elderly losing confidence and relying on books as company. A book accepts you regardless of your disabilities, struggles, insecurities and prejudices.
I’m unsure if YA books were around when I was a teen. I’m losing my memory and my faculties because I feel like I progressed from The Famous Five to P D James. I can’t remember any books in between, other than difficult English Lit books. Chaucer? For goodness sake what were the examining boards thinking of. A teen is not going to develop a love of books when faced with The Canterbury Tales at fifteen/sixteen. They need novels that captivate, with characters they identify with. Adults might love reading YA but that’s not automatically reciprocal. I have four children and Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls four flippin years is a killer. Some contemporary books please!
I introduced The Famous Five to my children and Gerty, Tom and Paddy stalled. They couldn’t connect with the kids, they were too far removed from their reality…but Kitty was well in there and funnily enough Literature emerged as her career path.
From my first born to my last, YA has sprouted like dandelions. I was literally salivating each time I took my kids to Waterstones. I loved touching the books, feeling the covers, especially when titles were embossed. I wanted my kids to be swept up in fantasy or on a knife edge or gooey over kissing.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Darren Shan, Martyn Pig, Shadows; some fantastic YA literature was emerging. I fell into a habit of reading my children’s books probably to justify the cost but also to make it a shared experience. Just like we watched Disney together, Dr Who, X Factor, Buffy and now Love Island
Alongside I’d be reading Val McDermid, Stephen King, Mark Billingham, Jilly Cooper.
I can easily reel off my three favourite books:
- Killing Me Softly by Nicci French
- The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
- 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I don’t read for reading’s sake; I’d rather watch NetFlix. I’m not someone who can read any genre, in any style. I avoid overly descriptive novels with a plethora of multiple syllable words. Not because I don’t understand them but because the author showing off can effect the flow of a book and the depth of the characters. My only exception to this is Donna Tart; I’ll happily engage my brain there.
I can’t help think how fortunate I am to have access to so many books. When I’ve a little spare cash spending £7.99 on a book is worth it. Consider the cost of the cinema or any activity that takes an hour or more and you’ll see it’s a bargain. When I’m broke (regular occurrence) it’s the library and the charity shops for me.
As a teen, living on a council estate, in a flat charged with emotion, I would escape to the library. I actually remember resting my head against a row of novels, silently crying. It was my refuge; here I could be anyone and go anywhere. Libraries need to flourish, to connect with the kids that aren’t coming to the library. We, the people of Britain, debate no end why children turn to antisocial behavior? Millions is probably spent analysing and procrastinating when the answer is simple. Children need free facilities: school breakfast clubs, social clubs, swimming and libraries; lots of libraries. Ones with cafes and I don’t mean Costa, I mean a hot chocolate for 50p, a bag of crisps for 50p, a coke for 50p. There should be sofas and cushions and a free book section where a kid can take a book without being a member. Let’s be fair, unfit parents don’t sign you up to the library. I was terrified joining the library. I thought they wouldn’t want someone like me. I never understand how, surrounded by amazing literature, some librarians can be unwelcoming and unapproachable. Jolliness should be on the person spec and there should be book recycle schemes.
As an author I love that my book is on a journey, from one reader to another, one home to another. I’m more than happy for my book to be passed to a hundred people. I count myself lucky if someone has purchased my book and liked it enough to pass it to a friend. I just hope I didn’t disappoint…but it’s good to know…I’d like to think being new to writing I can improve. That the girl holding a book in front of her face to hide the tears can learn to put a smile on a similar kid, forty years later.
I hope every reader and writer has a lovely WORLD BOOK DAY.