Books save lives.
I know that they saved mine.
I have never been a kid that was suicidal, or had thoughts of just being over with this life, but I was fed up with how I was being treated. I was bullied at school it didn’t stop until I hit university. So for almost 13 years straight I was bullied because I was Greek; because I was too nice; because I wanted to get to know everyone; because I wanted to be friends with everyone; because I got to be friends with the new people before anyone else. I don’t know what their reasoning was, it just was.
I resisted reading for so long. I not only disliked books, but I hated them. One of my aunties gifted my brother, my cousins and myself books at every occasion she could. My familiar catchcry had been: Not another book! And she just smiled. It wasn’t until she gifted me Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden did my life change. I was twelve and I remember that Christmas well. My brother had just gotten a Nintendo 64 and he and Dad were playing Pokemon on it (because my dad was a bigger kid than we ever were!) and I was fed up with not getting a turn so I thought I’d try reading a book.
This wasn’t unusual. I tried to read plenty of books and I had a few books I bought from garage sales and old library that I loved to try to read but I never got far into them. I was either distracted or liked to do other things (and come to think of it, being forced to read a book before bed at my brother’s godsister’s house was a form of torture for me growing up). But something about this book got me to lie down on my bed, put some music on and read.
My love for books started those school holidays. It was also one of the first years that the bullying stopped, for a short time. I read my way through John Marsden’s series. I would take the book with me on trips to Berri, in the car to netball and softball games, waiting in the doc’s office, waiting at the x-ray place. Anywhere. My mum started to joke with me that she should have just bought them all at once because I was taking about two weeks to read through them (and for me that had been fast at the time).
I always thought that reading was for geeks. That I wasn’t one of them, but lo and behold I was.
I started borrowing books from the library. Not one or two, but 25-30 books and I would read them at school in between my notebooks while my teacher Mrs Cocks, spoke of English, maths, art and whatever else you learn in primary school.
Some of my best friends were Liz and Jessica Wakefield, Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe Hardy, Mary-Anne Spier, Kristy Thomas, Claudia Kishi, Dawn Schafer, Logan Bruno and Max Evans to name a few. I fell in love with books fast and hard. Nothing could sway me back.
It’s almost natural that I fell in love with writing. I love the escapism. I love being able to leave reality behind and slip in between the pages of a world where anything is possible and that was what saved me. It kept me sane in my darkest moments when nothing could make sense of things. I feel like Belle when everyone tells her to get her nose out of books and into the real world. I’ve got told that my head is always in my books, in my own writing, and I like being there.
It helped shape me and give me the skills to figure out who did it in a murder mystery or dream of that man that would kind and caring and sweep me off my feet. Reading help facilitate my daydreaming and keeps me young.
Books saved my life in so many ways. It helped my sanity and helped me learn to cope when things got too hard. I always come back to them whenever the world gets too hard for me, so if you see my nose in a book while I’m waiting for you to rock up, you know that I’m either too engrossed in the book to leave it behind or I’m dealing with stress and trying to read my way out of it. Don’t be afraid, ask me what I’m ready and why I’m reading, I promise I’ll tell you if you tell me when the last time you picked up a book and it saved your sanity.
Let me know in the comments who were some of your book best friends and how did they made you feel?
Ps I’m currently chewing my way through Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. It’s maddening!