Here’s the truth: books saved my life. And I truly believe they can save yours, too.
When I was thirteen years old, reading was one of my favourite hobbies, although I have to admit, at the time I didn’t have much time to read. My parents were the kind of parents who believed in a healthy diet and staying fit, which meant they signed me up for a bunch of activities. At first, I tried sports like hockey and swimming, gymnastics and figure skating.
In the end though, I settled for this: I danced three times a week, played the piano, ran on my school x-country team, played soccer and took horseback riding lessons during the summer. When I did have the time to read, I read mostly fantasy books, like Harry Potter. It’s such a cliché, I know, but books allowed me to escape, and, whenever I had to go back to reality, I felt somewhat depleted. My world seemed so flat and boring and uninteresting compared to the ones conjured on the page.
By the time I turned fifteen, though, I was so depressed, I spent endless nights starring at my ceiling, overthinking and getting overwhelmed with anxiety. I quit all my extracurriculars, and so to distract myself, I read.
I read books about mental illness because fictional characters felt more real than the people around me – and they still do. When I spiralled into my first, then second, major depressive episode, I immersed myself in the narratives of people I’d never met, characters who weren’t even real. They validated my feelings and I related to them on so many levels. They taught me more about depression than anybody else.
They gave me hope because every time I opened my mouth, the words would get stuck in my throat: but they had the right words that described exactly how I was feeling. They brought me comfort, something the people around me rarely provided.
I was blown away.
Who knew books could have so much power? Who knew words could be so dangerous and life-changing?
These people, they were so real to me. They were my best friends when I lost my best friend. My parents thought I read because I was lonely, but the truth is, reading was my way out of feeling lonely.
This project started when I realized that indeed, books saved me. During the darkest hours of my life, I found comfort in books, and stories. I found comfort in worlds where characters weren’t afraid to show their true, flawed and vulnerable selves. I found comfort in the pages of lovely novels written by equally lovely people.
Everything about these novels is familiar – the smooth edges and bumpy spines, the occasional wrinkled page and underlined words – everything about my past can be traced back to these novels I read a countless number of times.
And so here, I aim to review the ones that touched my soul the most, the ones that influenced me and helped me grow into the person I am today.