It’s World Book Day! What a great idea, lots and lots of excited school children all going into school dressed up as their favourite characters clutching their favourite book. If you go to my school you will be wearing your pyjama’s – I am not too sure why!
It has made me think of something. What was my favourite book? The book that got me into the obessive reading habit (do not talk to me when I am holding a book) that I still have today.
It has got to be Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers. I can remeber it like it was yesterday, mum bought me the book at the school book fair and I started reading on the way home. I refused to get out of the car at the shops and instead stayed in there by myself while the rest of the family went shopping. I still have my original Malory Towers set on pride of place on my bookshelf along with the many other hundreds I have collected since. Some of my Enid Blyton’s are first editions which I very helpfully decided to ‘fix’ with sellotape when I was young. Oh well. That is what books are for, enjoying not keeping on display.
When I was thirteen I picked up a different kind of book and it completely changed the path my life was on. I am not just talking about on an emotional level. I mean literally changed my entire perception of everything.
Katherine by Anya Seton. Holy cow that book blew me away and instilled in my a deep love of all thing history. In fact when I went for my interview at Uni and they asked me what it was that made me want to study history I very proudly told them that it was this book and this intense need I had to ‘discover’ the truths behind it.
For my dissertation I wrote a 10,000 word paper on John of Gaunt even thought it was the hardest subject I could do, just because I wanted to finish what I had started with that book all those years ago. I still stare lovingly at all my Medieval History books even though I don’t get time to read them any more and I still have all my post-it notes stuck in them from my dissertation days, they are now yellow and non-sticky from the ensuing decade that has passed.
Even now, ten years later the book and the subject has such a strong hold on my that I have managed to sneak my own little ‘Ode to Katherine’ in my own novels. For those with a keen eye, there is a Latin phrase which my main character Lilah uses on a gift for Ben. This is from Katherine, I wanted to put something in that would pay homage to the book that changed my life. I am still using it now in my second book. An indirect reference to something that is deeply personal to me and always has been. Faith really does conquer and books really can change lives especially when you are a little girl sitting in a sunny spot on the back seat of a car opening up a big wide world of opportunity and delight.
Is there a book that has changed your life?
And yes I will be wearing my pyjama’s to school this afternoon because how could I not. World Book Day? I say hell yes!!