This is a hugely personal post for me. It’s not about my sexuality, my employment situation or anything in that regard. It’s about my love of reading, how I lost it and how it’s finally made a leap back into my life in such a way that I feel absolute joy I can only just about express.
I was always a massive reader in my childhood and early teens. Where The Wild Things Are, The Pop-Up Mice of Mr. Brice, Baby-Sitters Club, Point Horror, Sweet Valley High, Harriet The Spy, all of Roald Dahl; I couldn’t get enough of books and reading and as a result, had a reading level about 3-4 years above my age by the time I was 8. I would read and re-read my favourites, race through series to get to the next one and wish I could read more than one book at the same time so I could read more!
Then my mid-late teens started and so did the reading list to go along with it. Authors including Jeffery Eugenidies, JT Leroy, Stella Duffy, Douglas Coupland, AM Homes, Alex Garland, Irvine Welsh infiltrated into my tastes and I coudn’t get enough of them. This reading phase continued into my early twenties when I was studying Film and Art History at uni but not long after my graduation my almost pathological love of reading started to disappear. This isn’t to say that I didn’t read anything, but I guess my tastes changed to magazines and film watching so I was reading a different kind of text with the same passion for this time.
I also started working in a bookshop and a generous discount and access to proofs meant that I still amassed a pretty large book collection. I just didn’t read them. I would start to read them and then a few chapters in or halfway through, I’d put the book down and not pick it up again for 6 months only for the same thing to happen again. My passion had waned and I didn’t know why or how to get it back. Sometimes I think it’s because I was surrounded by books everyday. When you go home from work, all you want to do is get away (in a sense) from what you’ve been around and I just coudn’t bring myself to read as often as I wanted to because I associated it with work so much.
Then around 2 months ago, I bought Susannah Cahalan’s book, Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness, after reading a review of it in one of my magazines. I’d read about a quarter of it before I went to Australia and thought it was going to go the same way as all the other books. Then I picked it up on Saturday to read on a train journey. Before I knew it, I was three-quarters of the way through it and at my stop. And today, I finished it (FYI – it’s one of the most heartbreakingly frank and upbeat books I’ve read in a long time about mental health, health and what the body is capable of doing to you that is out of your control. I can’t recommend it enough as a research memoir of sorts about a twenty-somthing young professional woman). This sense of overwhelming happiness that I had finished it washed over me and I felt a renewed eagerness to move onto my next book – Kelly Oxford’s Everything’s Perfect When You’re A Liar. I CANNOT wait to start it (and will do so after I finish this blog post). I also purchased Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake and hopefully that’ll arrive this week too.
It’s made me want to start all the books I never finished again, give them the literary attention they truly deserve and, most of all, enjoy them. Like every book should be.
I’ll finish with this quote from John Waters. It’s one of my favourites and SO TRUE. If someone has the same literary tastes as I do it’s usually a good sign.
And let me know if there are any books you’ve read recently that you would recommend. That’s usually how I find new authors I love and I reckon all of you have pretty fine taste as well.