The Book That Made Me

At the minute Waterstones is running a pretty awesome campaign. They want people to tell them about their one book – that one book that changed how they thought or even made them who they are today. They want people to share their stories and spread the book love.

For a little bit more on that have a look here: www.thebookthatmademe.com

This got me thinking, well, it had to really. As a bookseller I needed to choose one to be part of the store display. Three books immediately sprang to mind: Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. All for differing reasons, but all three have changed the way I read, the way I think about things, and the way I communicate with people.

For Guards, Guards… it was the first book from the Discworld series I ever read. Before then it had been an intriguing grown up book from that series my Dad liked. After that I read every Discworld book I could get my hands on. I just love the way Terry Pratchett writes; witty and subversive, but I mostly loved being able to discuss what I’d been reading with my Dad and hearing his thoughts on it too. The books about Sam Vimes and the Night Watch within the Discworld series remain my favourites. It was one of the best moments when I got to meet Terry Pratchett a decade later and he signed my battered copy of the book.

I first discovered The Knife of Never Letting Go at University. For those not in the know, The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first part of the phenomenal Chaos Walking trilogy. If you haven’t read it: do. My FYP tutor introduced me to it and it opened my eyes to fiction that really really hurts. Patrick Ness’ writing hurts like fire. Like fire. This is not to say I hadn’t read sad stories before, or stories that made me think, but the issues raised and the questions asked in the Chaos Walking trilogy have stayed with me. It made me realise that teen dystopian writing can be just as good, just as moving, just as thought-provoking as adult dystopia and – in some cases – better than.

But the book I eventually chose as the one that made me is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.

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(Image taken with Instagram)
Why yes, the cover is more cellotape than cover. And yes, it is a very old copy. But that’s part of the reason why I chose it. The book itself originally belonged to my Granny, then it was passed to my Dad, and finally I got my hands on it when I was 11 years old. I loved the sense of family history, the thought of the people who read it before me, but as soon as I cracked open the pages – it was love.
The Lord of the Rings is not an easy read. The world building is incredibly detailed making parts a little dense to read, the text is interspersed with songs that can go on for pages – in short, it’s epic. It has inspired in me an abiding love of fantasy fiction that has yet to truly abate. It’s raised the standards for world-building and for those that have read any of my reviews you can see it’s one of the things I will comment on. Thanks to The Lord of the Rings I will have love for any book which contains rich, detailed world building. It forced me to assess my own writing and really changed the way I thought about books.
So that is why I love The Lord of the Rings and that is why it is the book that made me.

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