Back to books

DISCLAIMER: It’s been an absolute age since I last wrote anything – like this, anyway, because I’ve been in scriptwriting/essay mode for a few weeks now – so please bear with me if this post is a little shaky! I’m trying to ease myself back into it. I’ve missed you, blog!

For an English student, I do embarrassingly little reading. I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time reading for pleasure. After spending all week (at least at the moment) reading around one novel, three plays or screenplays, and three or four critical essays, I just haven’t really felt like spending my free time with my head in a book. However, this past week things have changed. The only things I’ve felt like watching on TV are things I’ve seen countless times before, and recently. The new things that I’ve wanted to experience, and learn from, have been books. So much so that I’m actually writing this to stop myself reading, so I can incite myself to go to my lecture in forty minutes. I know if I start a new book, I won’t stop. And that feeling is nice.

I don’t really know what changed this week, apart from the fact that it feels like it is actually winter now as, let’s be honest, it’s bloody freezing. Winter tends to zap all the energy out of me. This isn’t necessarily bad, it just means that I lose all my motivation for forcing myself to leave the house and be cold. All I want to do is sit in my chair, or in my bed, wrapped up and drinking tea and being quiet. This is probably quite sad for a twenty year old girl to say, but hey, that’s who I am. So over the past week, that’s precisely what I’ve been doing. After I finished re-reading The Eyre Affair for what must be at least the fiftieth time (see a previous blog post for extreme ramblings on the subject), I was reminded how much I love books. Everything about them. From the superficial feel and smell of them to the brilliance of what they contain – words, in so many forms and structures that it’s sometimes impossible to keep track of them. Books have shaped my life for longer than anything I can remember (I mean, apart from my family, obviously). Through books I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’m still learning.

So immediately after putting The Eyre Affair down (OK, possibly after making a cup of tea after putting The Eyre Affair down), I picked up the next book on my shelf: which happened to be Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Apart from knowing that I’ve always intended to read it, I knew almost nothing else about it. For someone who’s a sucker for the Spoiler, this is always quite an achievement. I don’t want to go into elaborate analytical detail here, because that’s not what this blog is (I do enough of that as it is), but I will say that it’s been a while since I’ve been so affected by anything I’ve read. I’m one of the few, lucky, people whose life has never been directly touched by war, and I can’t possibly begin to imagine what it must be like for those who have. Still, it doesn’t change how moved I was by the novel. This kind of surprised me, to be honest, as once I saw how the narrative was structured I was fully expecting to hate it – I’m not the most original reader, and anything outside the typical linear progression tends to shock and confuse me – but instead I loved the alternative structure. It’s a fascinating and inspiring read. It also made me begin to think about my dissertation, which is bizarre and terrifying but at least I’m thinking about it as opposed to just running away from the concept in tears.

Straight after that, well, my mum came to visit and brought with her a whole heap of books I’d ordered to my home address. Not knowing where to start, I picked up the slimmest volume (alright, alright, it’s because I’ve still got classes this week). This happened to be The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. I’ve seen the film, and intended to read the  book for some time before seeing the film (and after), and even though I knew what was happening and what had happened (I’m saying nothing) it still packed an emotional punch I wasn’t quite expecting to feel. Another entirely absorbing read, I’ve finished it this morning instead of preparing for today’s classes…if you remember being a teenager, and feeling so impossibly lost and alone that you don’t think you’ll ever get out of the other side OK, you’ll be able to appreciate it. It feels like a very long time since I felt like that myself, but it still meant a lot. I just wish I’d had it at the time.

I know I always praise everything I write about on this blog, which does tend to give the impression of me as an unassuming, uncritical, madwoman. I promise you, I’m not. I wouldn’t recommend something to people that I hated, would I? Everything I write about on here has meant something important to me in one way or another, and it’s because of this that I choose to write about it. These texts are nothing different. Both are special and are great, and I recommend them wholeheartedly. Because that’s what this blog is for.

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