Harry Potter Saved My Life…Ramblings about Reading


I’ve had the good fortune to stumble across a number of great blogs about books and reading recently, and they have inspired this post…

As a kid I read by the light that flitered through the crack in the door- I insisted that I was afraid of the dark so that the landing light would always be left on. Once I had read all of my own books I moved on to my parents bookshelves.  I didn’t entirely understand  Jayne Eyre and Wuthering Heights, nor Spike Milligan’s War Diaries (and Wilbur Smith was rather stomach-churning for me at eleven) but I persevered.

As an adult I have invested more time in books than almost anything else.  Whilst studying for a Literature degree and wading through as sea of classical novels, I sought solace in my daughter’s books.  Thus I am proud to say I have read almost the entire body of work by Jaqueline Wilson.  Now my daughter favours Caitlin Moran and Dorothy Koomson so I have to find my own ‘children’s’ books.  But that’s easy; Patrick Ness, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Neill Gaimon and of course Roald Dahl are but a few wonderful authors whose books can be found in the childrens’ or teens’ section but whose writing is absolutely universal.

See, I’ve read Bulgakov and Pratchett with equal delight.  I’ve read books that have been lauded and never lived up to their promise. I’ve read books that have blown all my expectations away.  I have even read terrible books with the same pleasure I derive from a film that’s ‘so bad it’s good’ because a book is a form of entertainment.  It can be so, so much more than that of course; The Life of Pi slayed me, The Road, Alias Grace, His Dark Materials and hundreds of others have left me wandering in a daze of reflection, temporarily disconnected with the ‘real’ world.

I have analysed the life out of The Hunger Games trilogy and Harry Potter as well as The Master and Margarita and Pamela and Madame Bovary.

In fact, that brings me to the title of this post.  When my brain was all burned out and I needed to retreat for a while, it was Harry Potter that saved my life.  I needed distraction, and there it was.  I needed to care about what happened next, and I did.  Harry Potter got me through a few dark hours by allowing me to escape.

Taste in books is as personal as taste in music and I love reading too much to be snobbish about books and authors.  If you tell me it’s good, I’ll read it.  And if I think it’s good, I’ll pass it on.

Here’s a few books I would pass on to you (were they not a terrible dog-eared state from being well loved…)

anything by Nick Harkaway (brilliant brainfry)

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera

The Little Stranger – Susan Waters

Men At Arms / The Night Watch-Terry Pratchett

L’Assommoir / Germinal -Zola

The Master and Margarita/ Heart of a Dog – Bulgakov

Monsters Walking Trilogy – Patrick Ness

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman

The Graveyard Book – Neill Gaimon

The Colour Purple – Alice Walker

The Things Around your Neck/ Half a Yellow Sun – Chimmamanda Ngozi Adiche

The Road – Cormac McCarthy

Survivor/ Invisible Monsters/Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

Burying The Typewriter – Carmen Bugan

The Life of Pi- Yann Martel

The Tiger’s Wife – Tia Obreht

And a few I’d just pass on (if you dislike my other list these might be for you)

War and Peace- Tolstoy (sacrilege I know)

Far From the Madding Crowd – Hardy (cant get past chapter 1)

On Chesil Beach- Ian McEwan (I know, more sacrilege)