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?