There’s something so alluring about reading. The ability for it to suck you in and submerge you in an entirely new world, with characters you get so attached to that they start to feel like family. The pure satisfaction of turning the last few pages, bending the spine and knowing you’ve completed another saga is a wildly triumphant feeling. But sadly books are slowly dying out and the passion for reading a physical copy is becoming outdated for some. Magnificent reads like The Colour Purple, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and ANYTHING by Ben Elton are now being confined to the backs of charity shops and the web, while sales of Kindles continue to rise. In a bit of a writer’s block recently, I decided to embark on a quest to reignite my love of books, and figured that the best way to kickstart that was to buy a bunch of them and just dive in. I generally looked for books that may inspire me, change my opinion or make me question myself and several of them have already started arriving in the post. Here are a few of my newly found reads, and, without judging them by their cover, here’s the general gist I have for all of them.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Based on the memoir of former editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine, Jean-Dominique Bauby, this book tells the real life story of Bauby having to come to terms with having locked-in syndrome after suffering a stroke. Despite the rare condition turning his body into a prison of sorts, he doesn’t let it hold his imagination back and truly shares what it is to be human and what we take for granted. Bauby wrote the entire book through communication by blinking his left eye, and it took 10 months to write. The sheer determination, wit and strength of the man behind the story compelled me to read it, and it’s no wonder why it is renowned as an incredibly inspirational book.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou has always been a source of inspiration for me. She is of the same era as the likes of the great Sidney Poitier and Nina Simone – an era full of hardened, African-American pioneers who persevered through terrible situations and overcame their backgrounds to share their talents with the world. Angelou fits so well within that time period, and was a huge voice of comfort and reason to the many who faced adversity during the Civil Rights Movement. To me, she always had a poised, inviting warmth to her and I can’t wait to read her famous autobiographical account of her early years. If you want to find out who Maya Angelou really was, what better way to start than to read about the young life and makings of a great, great woman.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky – by Heidi W. Durrow
As a mixed race woman I should really have read more books with multiracial protagonists, but I recently realised that I haven’t. The last book I read with a mixed race female character as the lead was Checkmate by Malorie Blackman (author of the absolutely fantastic Noughts and Crosses series) which was years ago. So Heidi W. Durrow‘s debut novel seemed like a great place to start. The book follows the story of Rachel, a light-skinned biracial girl who moves to a predominantly black neighbourhood after a family tragedy and is forced to confront her mixed identity, parts of which I can completely relate to. The book has received a lot of critical acclaim and seems to have a really intricate storyline about discovering who we really are vs. who other people tell us we are.
Cat’s Cradle – by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut is a writer that’s been on my radar for a long time but I’ve never gotten round to reading any of his books. After hearing phenomenal things about his cult classics like Slaughterhouse 5, I decided to give one of his books a go. The one I picked was Cat’s Cradle, which is a dark yet humorous tale of Jonah who curiously pursues the scientist who developed the atomic bomb, Felix Hoenikker. The book covers the topics of science, religion, humanity, and the impending apocalypse. It’s also meant to make you care more about the human race, whilst simultaneously making you question it, which sounds like my kind of book.
The Fault In Our Stars – by John Green
Yes, I’m fully aware that this book is essentially teen fiction, and yes I’m aware that the ending has been somewhat ruined for me as everyone and his mother’s dog’s cousin has seen the film. But I won’t let that deter me from reading it, because at least it’s not Twilight. Everything I’ve heard about John Green‘s suspected last ever novel is that it is magical and wonderful and thought-provoking and horribly, horribly depressing. But weirdly, I rather enjoy sad books so I feel like this will be a great fit for me. There’s only one way to find out – turn to the first page and get ready to spend the next week crying all over everything. It’s about to get real weepy.