It was World Book Day today, which you’re probably well aware of if you’re a parent, have anything to do with schools or even just a grasp on social media. For the uninitiated (does it take place outside the UK?), World Book Day is an annual celebration of reading, and getting children interested in reading – today’s celebration is the 20th of its kind – marked by inviting children to attend school dressed as their favourite book character, and giving each child a voucher to be spent on novellas written by well-known authors (or bought for a quid, if you’re a bookish child like I was and couldn’t just choose one) sold in bookshops across the country.
Whew. I promise, if you never experienced a World Book Day growing up, it was a very exciting date in any primary schooler’s calendar. Well. Mine, at least.
Books are constantly changing the game for me in so many ways. I’m not much of a TV watcher, save for a few series that warm my heart so effortlessly they’re like comfort food now, but since forever I’ve been opened up to, and shaped by, so many concepts and possibilities I’ve seen in my favourite works of fiction. Here’s my most memorable of those.
- All Jacqueline Wilson, everything: I don’t actually remember which Jacqueline Wilson book was my first, but I had some firm favourites: Sleepovers, which I used to read in one sitting whenever I was a bit bored; The Diamond Girls and The Illustrated Mum for how gritty they were and how much of an accomplishment it felt to have finished them (when you’re 9, The Illustrated Mum is really, really long, my God); the Girls In Love series was important to me as a teenager, too – introducing me to proper coming-of-age stuff before I was even remotely close to coming of age.
- ‘Noughts and Crosses’, by Malorie Blackman: I’ve ranted and raved about this book so many times before and I doubt I’ll ever stop. At the age of 12, being exposed to a YA novel exploring not only love but politics, war, racism and classism was my real transition into the ‘real world’, so to speak. I remember taking the book with me to sleepovers and waking up earlier than my friends specifically to carry on readng it, and feeling so overcome with every emotion as I turned its final pages that I cried like a baby. A book had never done that to me before. I was arguably too young, at 12, to be reading it, but it’s definitely the most important book to my own timeline that I’ve ever picked up.
- ‘The Goldfinch’, by Donna Tartt: I’m actually still reading this one, which is secretly annoying because I aimed to read two books a month this year and it’s only February’s first foray (I know it’s March, I know). However, I’m not annoyed at the book itself – it’s about 900 pages long, built like a brick – because ‘The Goldfinch’ is incredible. I’ve never read a novel in which each setting, character, movement and emotion is explored and analysed in such depth. The plot is largely focused around antique dealership and fine art, two things I can’t say I know anything about, but Tartt has a real gift for immersing the reader in protagonist Theo’s world, and I’m hooked. As a writer, it’s inspired me to do so much more with my words.
So there we have it! Three ways books have influenced me for the better. If only I could appear at work in costume and not be marched straight back out to change…
What’s your favourite book?
Until next time,