Have you ever read a book that’s saved you? Maybe not from a cliff edge, but that has cheered you up, helped give you a sense of perspective or got you through a tough time in your life? It’s often mentioned that books have the ability to help us to temporarily distance ourselves from our everyday lives and allow us a few moments of escapism. But some books don’t just give you a short term escape. The influence of some books bleeds back into our real lives.
Here are five books that have helped me get through the days when everything seems too difficult…
5: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I know, I know! You’re wondering why this is here when I hate all things sparkly vampire related? My guilty secret is that when I was trapped in the depths of fuzzy headed, sleep deprived PND, this book felt like a magic release. It was a world where everything was clean and easy and decided. And I needed that. Three months later I re-read it and wondered what I was thinking first time round, but it served its purpose.
4: Batty the Bat by me (!) and my sister
I am chronically bad at finishing bits of writing. I have half finished notebooks strewn round my house with a dozen different stories at various stages of (in)completion and more partial blogposts in my drafts folder than I’d like to admit. So I keep this fading exercise book in a box, easy to hand, for those days when I am tempted to throw the lot in the bin. To remind me that once upon a time I actually finished writing a story properly. Even if it was when I was 8 years old!
3: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Everyone goes through periods where finding the money to pay the bills is a bit of a struggle don’t they? When I’m scrimping and saving, and planning menus based around supermarket value carrots and lentils, I do get jealous of all the wonderful things everyone else is doing. I imagine other bloggers jumping on trains to London at the drop of a hat and swanking it round exclusive blogger parties with literary inspired cocktails and all sorts. I start to wonder if I’ll still be able to write anything interesting if my life revolves around freeview TV and 20 ways to eke out leftovers. So I give myself a good talking to and read Little Women to remind me to stop feeling sorry for myself and try and make the best of it, like the March girls.
2: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Maybe not the most obvious choice, as this book doesn’t exactly scream optimism. I mean, the protagonist spends years behaving impeccably to get out of jail asap, only to find his wife dead after having an affair with his best friend. But when I feel… not down exactly, but just flat, it’s comforting to feel that it’s not just me. And that not being all perky and cheerful doesn’t preclude you from making a big difference to the world.
1: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling
I have read this so many times that the spine has cracked, the pages have come away from the binding and I’ve had to attempt a major repair job with parcel tape! This got me through one of the worst times of my life, when I was being badly bullied by a boss at work (who coincidentally looked scarily similar to Dolores Umbridge!). To add insult to injury, I’d broken my ankle and was laid up at home for 8 weeks, wondering if I’d have a job to come back to. Luckily this book got me through it, and just afterwards I got my first big career break. Mischief managed or what!
Which books would pull you out of a slough of despond? Let me know. And if you do your own Friday Five, don’t forget to post the link below to share it!