What Reading Means to Me, Part III: Adulthood

Continuing on from What Reading Means to Me, Part II: The Teenage Years.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

During Christmas break from university at age 18, I browsed the shelves of Ottaker’s book shop (they later merged with Waterstones). There I found Bitten, reminding me of The Bloody Chamber with its female werewolf protagonist, I bought and read it in a number of hours, soon returning for the sequel.

This was the beginning of me taking full control over what and how much I read, the quantity of which increased so much I had to set a financial limit.

Urban fantasy was my new favourite genre.

The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

The longest book I’ve ever read at 1,200 pages.

I’d previously been introduced to dystopia by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale which had frightened me on its own, partly because women were stripped of their rights and went on to be brutally abused in the name of fertility. Bishop’s trilogy switched gender roles. Men were the subjugated gender graphically tortured for the pleasure of women. I weathered the emotional rollercoaster, storing them up to spill out after turning that final page. I balled for half an hour. It spoke to me. I could sum up what it said to me in one word: SACRIFICE. And I was damn familiar with that term.

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

I never wrote a review for this one. Unless you count the status update I posted on Goodreads after finishing:

I have no words, only tears. 6 stars.

Not many people had read and reviewed it when I picked it up. Kim’s review inspired me to reserve it at the library. Those first few pages told me this would be painfully real, physically painful.

Normally I read a novel chronologically from page one to the end, though I may peek at the last page. Here, I read maybe the first hundred pages, took a break, then read backwards from the end. Took another break. And then, finally the middle. I’m glad I did it this way. I cried a lot. I was upset for weeks. And Mockingjay didn’t make it better.

British author Suzuma has intimate knowledge of mental illness but it turned out we were both impacted by the same sibling incest article in The Times online (which is no longer free to view), suggesting this type of behaviour is far more common than we would think – it was the inspiration for this book.

Quiet by Susan Cain

This is another I’ve not written a review for, though I made copious notes, so I still could.

I eagerly anticipated Quiet‘s release. It wasn’t until my 20s that I discovered the meaning of ‘introvert’. This word explained my life. I had an urge to send copies of Quiet to everyone I knew with a note, “If you want to understand me, read this.” Cain had somehow found a way to read my mind without my knowledge and report the results for all to see. I wanted to highlight everything. My mother even joked that this would be my Bible – the book I keep beside my bed to be dipped into when I need comfort and reassurance.

The Library by Sarah Stewart

It’s strange to be finishing with a children’s picture book.

We follow a richly illustrated little girl called Elizabeth Brown from cradle to grave, every milestone marked by her obsessive reading habit and the books she hoards. Every bibliophile can relate. If time travel existed I’d definitely send this back to my child self.

These are my life-changing reads up to the present, at age 27.

Throughout my reading life I’ve changed and grown, my tastes have evolved and expanded to cover a wide variety of genres, and while some books will always remain sacred favourites, others may not live up to my glowing memory if I were to re-read them today.

However, there are certain events in my life that are inextricably linked to what and where I was reading at the time, for instance, thinking of Ulrik immediately reminds me of reading poolside at an Egyptian hotel in Sharm El-Sheik, Two for the Dough reminds me of a plane ride to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and Twilight of my trip to Boston, MA.

But hopefully there’ll be plenty more books to educate, intrigue and entertain me in my forthcoming years.

Read the other parts:
What Reading Means to Me, Part I: The Early Years
What Reading Means to Me, Part II: The Teenage Years

*This series of posts were written in the spirit of The Library Book anthology compiled by Rebecca Gray.


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