When I think back through my last 46 years it's amazing to realise there have been many books that have impacted, enhanced and influenced my life. When I was young I remember reading books in bed with my dad at night snuggled together. My favourites were The Gingerbread Man, Jack and the Beanstalk and the Ugly Duckling. Just getting the opportunity to lay with my dad was a magical time.
As I got a little older I used to love visiting the library with my mum. As a child you were only allowed 4 books and they would be date stamped to be returned or you would get a fine. I was enchanted looking through the shelves and finding hidden wonders. There were so many I loved, but my all time favourites were written by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, with both authors having the most outlandish imagination, but able to capture the hearts of children. The Twits was just so hilarious and naught which is very appealing to a child. I have no idea why it was never made into a film or a TV series. The Magic Faraway Tree was just so delightful with wonderful characters to enjoy. I always wanted a chair with wings.
As I grew up I was allowed 8 books from the library. I remember being thrilled that I had reached this milestone. I started to be drawn to mystical creatures and adventure book; the ones where you could choose your own adventure and pick the next page. Do you remember? Go to page 44 to battle the ogre or go to page 98 if you think you can sneak away without being noticed. I have to admit I did cheat a little and peep ahead to see what happened and then go the other way if it meant I could avoid my untimely death and have to start again. I used to love them but there were few around. I'm pleased to say I hunted one down on Amazon recently and managed to get a copy of 'The Magic of the Unicorn'.
The Land of Far Beyond by Enid Blyton was one of the books I treasure even now. It was a book about three children that break free of the city of Turmoil and with burdens on their backs they journey through many adventures towards a new life. I had a real wow moment as it truly has a meaning of things we can over come.
When I got into my teenage years there were books at school we were forced to read like Of Mice and Men but in actual fact I rather enjoyed it, particularly getting to know more about peoples’ differences. I remember feeling sad with the ending. At this point in my life I started to be interested in boys and makeup and was drawn to Forever by Judy Blume and the infamous Sweet Valley High Twins. It makes me laugh when I think about these as they were just like a teenage Mills & Boon. I remember there was a waiting list at the library for Forever as it was so popular. It was about teenage love and it certainly opened my eyes to a few things and the name 'Ralph' will be ingrained in my head, that made me a little embarrassed.
I loved English and enjoyed writing stories that allowed me to escape for a while and stretch my imagination. At this point I wanted to be a journalist. I also had a keen interest in drawing and loved art. I definitely was a creative soul with a weird edge as I loved Salvador Dali and MC Escher and their surrealism and had many art books that told me more about their life and amazing art work was plastered on my wall, alongside Bros, A-ha, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise.
I wasn't academic, so couldn't wait to leave school and get a job. I started working full time at Tesco when I was 17, craved independence and wanted to earn my own money so I could buy clothes and go out. I remember being drawn to James Herbert books and am impressed to say I have a signed copy of Others at home. His books were dark and extremely gory, but I loved his intense story telling and again the mysterious quality of his writing. I also had some treasured hard back books The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dreams and The Encyclopaedia of Mind, Magic & Mysteries that kept me intrigued as to what else was out there.
When I was an older teenager I was certainly more interested in being madly in love with my boyfriend of the moment and having lots of fun. Books were not my main priority. I don't think I started reading again properly until I was 21 and got a job in London which meant commuting every day. Reading a book on the Central Line was a nice distraction from the sweaty armpits and gloomy faces on the Tube in the morning. I seemed to generally be drawn to thrillers, murder mysteries and the odd rom com as some lighthearted reading to make the journey run quicker.
In my early twenties I suffered a lot with anxiety and panic attacks, which seemed to come from nowhere. I used to be a party girl and loved dancing all night long and think it probably stemed from too many late night raves and dabbling in a few things I should have avoided. It started restricting me doing things. I became quite claustrophobic and travelling would send my heart racing, which doesn't help when you have to go into central London to work. I used to love flying on a plane to take me on a new adventure but now it was the worse thing ever and scared me so much, I used to be a nervous wreck about a week before flying. I found great comfort in reading Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and in all honesty think this book really did change my perspective of things. I was determined to not allow my anxiety to win and take over my life. It certainly was a battle and it took a while for me to overcome those feelings. The 2005 London bombings were horrendous and didn't help my fears. I was suddenly panic stricken about going to work and arranged many different routes to get there.
I did find my love for Harry Potter when I was 25, still find the stories mesmerising and am pleased my son is starting to love the films too. Harry Potter World in Universal Studios is just the most amazing experience. When I go on Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey I still get the tingles even now. It makes me quite emotional. Other than discovering some new magic I think books in my 30's were much more about my commute into work. Getting me through the 3 hour journey each day so I could zone out for a while.
In my 40's I became a mummy and definitely did not have any time to read, other than The Very Hungry Caterpillar, That’s Not My Flamingo and Stickman. In all honesty this is where I found my love for children's books again, how they light children up with the magical creatures that come alive in their eyes. Many a time I have read a book to my son, allowed myself to relax and enjoy the story and then realise I am actually looking forward to watching Snail and The Whale again for the hundredth time. Julia Donaldson is someone I admire so much.
In the last 3 years I would say I have taken a step back and really focused on me. I haven't been working, so being a mummy allowed me some flexibility to focus on the things that I never had the time for when I was working. I completed my CIPD and read many a HR book which gave me the fountain of knowledge I needed.
I have been a huge Shaun T fan since I met him in 2016. To say I was shaking with excitement was an understatement. He gives THE best hugs and I have found his fitness programs have helped me be accountable but also had the realisation how much fitness helps my mindset. He is someone who has been through so much in his life having been sexually abused when he was a child. I admire what he had to overcome to get to where he is today. His book T is for Transformation is inspiring and gives insight into his journey and how he aims to live his best life.
I also discovered Mel Robbins and her 5,4,3,2,1 attitude. I love her honesty and sheer desire to be the best and tell people exactly how to help themselves. None of it is rocket science at all, but she just has the most amazing energy to engage people. Her book The 5 Second Rule has taught me not to stay in bed and snooze (well occasionally I might when I get a chance), and to follow my dreams.
Training to be a coach has made me appreciate some of the most well written self help books that focus on people changing their view and approach on life. The Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin, The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier and Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey have taught me so much.
I couldn't write about my favourite books without mentioning Michael Heppell. He too has changed my life, gave me some self-belief again and made me realise the potential I have. How to Brilliant and 17 are my go to books when I need some focus. 17 minutes sprints is a genus idea and something I now always do when I realise I am procrastinating or completely avoiding something I don't want to do.
Books are awesome!! I am now on a mission to read much more this year and make it a priority in my life. I do 17 minute sprints every night before I go to bed and if I am tired I finish at that, but if I am in the flow I can read much longer.
My favourite book - now that is a question? Would love to know some of yours.
When I reflect back I can see how books have been with me throughout my life. Books are vitally important and I know I will continue to learn so much more.