Has a book changed your life?


It’s a truism in journalism that most headline questions can be answered with either a yes or no.

No. A book hasn’t changed my life. If we rephrase, however, into “have books changed your life,” then the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

I don’t remember not reading. This isn’t a reflection of my memory – I started young. I was reading chapter books in kindergarten – by the end of the year, Nancy Drew had become my hero.

I remember summer reading challenges at the library. Read twenty-five books and get a prize. I think it was supposed to be a summer-long project, but I always finished in July.

I don’t remember what the prizes were, aside from bookmarks. Things were simpler, and prizes smaller, forty years back.

Almost anything could catch my interest, but I did have books and series I adored. “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery as well as all the related books. The Little House on the Prairie collection. Anything by Madeleine L’Engle. Susan Cooper. Narnia.

I admit to a preference for female heroines and the fantastical, but I’m not exclusive. I devoured Tolkien. I love the writing of Guy Gavriel Kay – he’s another one who knows how to write an epic adventure with characters that feel like part of your life.

Then there’s Nora Roberts. I have everything she’s ever written, including the series romances that started it all. I have a love-hate with series romance. I love a happy ever after, but they promote some fairly negative stereotypes. They’re also quite tied to my eating disorder, but that’s a problem to unravel another day.

Jayne Krentz is another author I followed from Harlequin et al. I had quite a love affair with series romances at one time. They’re appealing when your life is so much not one. They’re also a quick read – I love the hour-long pocketbook, even if most of mine are now on Kindle. I know I don’t really own them, but because they come under the category of quick and easy read, I mostly don’t care.

If I do, I get hard copies.

Some authors have remained in the permanent category – the aforementioned all live in my library. Some have been demoted – I no longer buy paper copies of Stephanie Laurens, for instance. This can be a problem with prolific authors you’ve followed for some time – eventually, the stories repeat.

I do love a good historical romance.

I also enjoy nonfiction – Bill Bryson is a current favourite. He combines humour and education, two of my favourite things. Brené Brown lives on my shelves, as does Thich Nhat Hahn, various copies of the Bible, and one Quran. The big blue book from AA and the Eating Disorders Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous versions live there as well. I got a package when I checked in at my last inpatient treatment.

I have assorted books on eating disorder recovery in my library. Geneen Roth would be my favourite there, though they’ve all been helpful in one way or another. Near them live the books about fashion, style, makeup, and exercise.

I’ve always loved irony.

I also have a set of encyclopedias, for when the world goes dark and internet knowledge is no longer a thing.

Or, nobody wants them so there’s nowhere for them to go.

There’s no possibility of picking a favourite. I reread most of them at various times, sometimes just a page or two here and there. I remember well the things I’ve read, and usually don’t need much to bring the book back. Rereading is like spending time with an old friend; I enjoy it very much.

Plus, I can skip chunks I no longer have interest in.

Could I give up Stephen King’s “The Stand?” What about that series of books about magic and dragons? Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women?” Should one really part ways with a book of pressed fairies?

I used to give up books. That is, on occasion, in the past, I’ve parted with books without due care and attention. It’s mostly been a mistake. I still have books lost that I regret, books that are no longer in print or are rare now and ridiculously expensive. Or books whose titles I don’t recall. It’s surprising how unhelpful a synopsis is to a bookseller or Google.

I take more care now. I do with the books the same thing I used to do with my children’s toys. If I feel compelled to cull, I pack them up but tuck them away for six or so months, just to see if letting them go will lead to buyer’s remorse.

We all have hobbies and loves. Books and reading are mine.

10 thoughts on “Has a book changed your life?

  1. I love this post!! I’ve given away hundreds of books over the years—mostly paperbacks. I went through a romance period too, though it was pretty short-lived. I love reading true crime, thrillers (Patricia Cornwell is my fave!), best sellers, and general fiction, but I’ll read just about anything that piques my curiosity.

    Liked by 1 person

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