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Saving Myself One Book At A Time

The books that have saved me across the years and the miles.

The books that changed my world

I have lost myself in books since before I can remember.

It started with reciting Cinderella (I can still remember the illustrations of her dresses in such detail), hit repeat with Blackberry Farm and accompanied every bedtime from the moment I could read myself until today.

I read with a love and a passion — and jumped headlong into the Kindle generation because it saved my luggage weight dilemmas.

As I have travelled around the world, there is a small collection of physical books that have come along with me, each step of the way, and they take pride of place on the bookcases next to the reading chair…

So here goes, my list of books that have saved me across the years and the miles…

Danny the Champion of the World — Roald Dahl

All Roald Dahl books are genius, but this one, it stuck with me. Whenever my kids eat raisins (which is pretty much EVERY day) I think of Danny and his Dad soaking the raisins, filling them with crushed sleeping tablets and then sewing them up again. It was my first real understanding that Dad’s could be emotional too…

Just as Long as We’re Together — Judy Blume

Teenage girls. The trials of friendships. Judy Blume pretty much guided me through my teenage years one book at a time…

The Lost Continent — by Bill Bryson

I was working a summer job in the city and I had a long commute on the underground from suburbia. This book had me laughing so hard in my seat that I peed my pants. It meant no weirdos ever came and sat next to me on my journey home (because I was that weirdo myself, trying to stifle the laughter, which then erupted as tears instead…) This book introduced me to the joy of great travel writing. And reminded me of the joy of actual travel.

Enduring Love — Ian McEwan

Romance, madness and hot air balloon accidents. This random pick at the airport just as heading off on holidays was my starting point for what felt like proper ‘contemporary literature’. A coming of age book for me, I’ve grown to love dark and disturbing…

The Business — Iain Banks

A strong female lead and a small Himalayan province — intrigue and power had me from the start. Not quite my working world, but one I could comprehend existing, however uncomfortable it made me feel.

And as I’ve got older, so my reading choices have switched from pure escapism, to realism that I can identify with and grow from.

My head and heart have been turned upside down by books that reflect where I am on my journey right now. Books that offer me a feeling of ‘community’, that makes me realise I am not alone. (So not so different from Judy Blume then…)

Each of our journeys are personal, but these books have been fire starters and guiding lights for me…

Daring Greatly — Brené Brown

I wanted to be braver. This book opened me up to how I would need to be vulnerable to get there.

Present Over Perfect — Shauna Niequist

I don’t ‘do’ religion. But other than that, this wonderful woman wrote my story in a way that made me understand the truth of it. It broke me open and led me to rebuild.

How to Live A Good Life — Jonathan Fields

A friend posted a picture of this book on Instagram. And hell yes — anything that promises a good life! The first chapter felt like it was written for me personally, and working the book has inspired me so much. If I could run away to Camp GLP I would… This book just grows happiness…

My friends have wanted to disown me due to books on numerous occasions. I get lost in books. Always have. Always will.

But they get to benefit as well.

When I read a great book, I pass the recommendation on. I frequently pass the book on too, if I think it will hit the spot.

And the children might not have the latest gadget or game, but if they show me a book that they want, the likelihood is that I’ll get it for them. Because every night before bed, without fail, we will sit, and we will read. And no matter what has happened in the day, we will reconnect.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than sharing words and stories with people. So onwards and upwards — may the world continue to be filled with books of awe and wonder…

And my favourite current kids books… to inspire and delight the next generation of wordsmiths…

Anything by Oliver Jeffers — but I’ll claim A Child of Books for right now…

Jon Klassen — This Is Not My Hat and associated stories…

& of course… the magic that is Harry Potter. Thank you J K Rowling!

Originally published at

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


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