The book that changed my life

Let it be known, Happy’s, that I am indeed a book fanatic. It dates back to when I was small (as opposed to big), and my dad used to take me up to Pentimento Books in Balmain on the weekend for some serious father daughter time. Now, every time I step inside a bookstore, the smell takes me back to being 7 or 8, with dad and I browsing the shelves for our next favourite book and spending the whole afternoon lost amongst the written word. Until mum would call, wondering if we’d fallen off the face of the planet.

It’s no surprise, then, that I am still an avid reader and spend many of my spare minutes up at Borders or Berkelouw Books looking for great new reads. Last night, I picked up a copy of You’ve Got To Read This Book, by Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) & Gay Hendricks and was thrilled to see that this was a story packed with stories of the books that had changed people’s lives. They have the ability to do that, you know. Everyone from celebrities to writers to librarians share the moment that their favourite book came into their lives and stayed forever. It’s a beautiful, beautiful read so far.

You see, I’m a firm believer in books coming into your life at a certain time. For me, there have been many situations where I’ve looked at books and never been drawn to them, only to discover they are exactly what I need after a breakup, bad week, great week… whatever the situation may be.

One example, in particular, has stayed with me for years. I’d asked my parents for the novel Watermelon by Marian Keyes, but was instead bought Waterlemon by Ruth Ritchie.

It was the Christmas of 2006 and Mum had no idea that she’d purchased the wrong book. She was also completely oblivious to the blurb on the back. At the time, it seemed like a simple mistake. But as I started reading, I quickly realised that this was much more than an accidental mix-up. And by much more, I mean a life-changing amount more.

You see, four months earlier, my boyfriend at the time had been hit by a car. Not nudged, not bumped, but completely swallowed. The moments, hours, days, weeks, months that followed were, by far, the most excruciatingly painful of my life to date, and after suffering the severe emotional pain of having someone close to you be so close to death, I was having trouble coping at my tender age of 23.

As I sat down and read the blurb about how, too, Ritchie’s husband had been hit by a car and injured beyond recognition, I realised this book was meant to come into my life. I read every word of the novel that day. I didn’t leave the couch until I was done listening to Ritchie’s emotional struggle and how she had gone through a similar situation, WITH CHILDREN, and a serious full-time job and other general adult responsibilities that I had been spared. Her husband was in a coma. He had to learn to live again, my boyfriend just had to learn to walk again; his body was broken, but his mind was not. All in all, I was lucky and it was Ruth’s novel who made me realise that.

Books are, in essence, the stories of our lives. Be it fictional or true, the sum of the parts have to come from somewhere. It’s when these parts add up to something meaningful to you, that they make the biggest difference, and for me, Waterlemon added up to one giant juicy peach that gave me the sweet taste of hope. And that, was no mistake.

Tell me Happy’s…

What is the book that changed your life?

Have you read You’ve Got to Read This Book?

What about Waterlemon?

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6 comments

  1. hip&haute · November 10, 2010

    OMG Yaz! That is so freaky! What a coincidence. I too would have glued myself to the couch and read it from front to back. Isn’t the world so funny like that sometimes. I hope you got through that time in your life and are a much stronger person for it (which no doubt you have).

  2. ponikuta · November 10, 2010

    Definitely going to check out this book next.
    My all time favourite book is “I know this much is true” by Wally Lamb. I’ve read all his books and they are all books that changes my perception in life.

    Another great one is “Thick Face Black Heart”, you have to check it out, I have a feeling you’ll love it.

    V xx

  3. eskimojo · November 11, 2010

    Kind of for a different reason, but a book that had an incredible impact for me was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

    My mum died from cancer when I was 18 after battling a couple of bouts of it, and before she went into hospital for the last time, she left a note in her bedside table, which my dad found the day after she died.

    It read, “Everybody dies. Some die young, and some die old. I’m going to die soon, but I’ve had my chance. You die, and then someone comes to take your place. Apart from being born, it’s the only thing in which we have no choice. When I’m dead, all I want is for you to remember me.”

    Five and a half years later a friend gave me Captain Corelli’s Mandolin for my birthday, and I really struggled to get into it. I started and stopped about five times, and finally about eight months later I got to chapter 71, and discovered where those words came from, Pelagia talking to young Iannis.

    It was a pretty incredible moment, suddenly and unexpectedly coming across the final words that my mum left us, right there in that book that I so easily could have put down and never picked up again.

    • Yaz Turker · November 15, 2010

      Thank you for sharing your story. I started tearing up. That must have been such an amazing moment for you, how amazing. Thank again and have a glorious day. Yx

  4. Alexandra · November 11, 2010

    Lovely post Yaz. I haven’t sat down and read a book, or even part of a book, in so long. Its regretably the first ball that I drop when life becomes crazy or when the noise from the boy’s PS3 gets too loud!

  5. Pingback: Lesson #4: Reading is a key ingredient to growing | The Happiness Cocktail

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