After much convincing, my wife has talked me into recommending books on this blog. Not reviewing books, because I don’t like leaving bad reviews (unless, of course, I feel like I have to warn someone) but instead recommending all the great books I am fortunate enough to get to read and enjoy. I didn’t quite know how to start so I figured I would give you a list of three books that got me through a rough patch and came to mean more than other books to me. I like to think that I’m not the only one who has books like that, ones that came to me at the right time and helped me deal with what was going on in my life at the time. If you have books like those too, please leave a comment and let me know I’m not alone. For now, let’s start with book number one.
Desolation Angels – Jack Kerouac
I know, I know… Kerouac, while a classic author, is problematic and his books are riddled with homophobia and misogyny. Most of it was of its time, but yes, it can be hard to read. Nonetheless, I have to bring up this book as it was the first book to mean more to me than just fun or reality escape. I found this book when I moved away from home. I was studying at uni and lived not only off campus, but in a neighbouring town where rent was cheaper. I felt quite isolated and not sure about who I was and how I wanted to live my life. The first part of the book, where the Kerouac self insert works and lives in solitude up a mountain, really spoke to me and often calmed me when I was freaking out about unwanted social interaction or the new challenges of living alone. It taught me to enjoy being alone and to realise that there was no manual to living your life, but that it was about what worked for you and kept your head above water.
American gods – Neil Gaiman
This book has saved me several times. It’s my go-to book when I’m in a low period in my life. Something about the journey, and the realism mixed with the magical, manages to give me hope. This book reminds me (when I get locked into a bad place in life or just in my head) that there is a huge world out there and that others have worse problems than I do. Seeing Shadow handle the problems in his life (often by not facing them head on) helps me move forward. I guess that is the underlying theme for me with this book, moving forward. Letting the story move you along as it unfolds. And then learning how to get off the carousel when you are ready to take control. As someone who suffers with a lot of anxiety and short bouts of depression, learning to move forward is crucial to me. Plus, this book inspires me to write. And that is gold dust.
The Diviners – Libba Bray
Pure diversion and distraction, but with a twist. I found this book when I desperately needed to take a break from my own life and the unpleasant thoughts in my head. This book quickly transported me away to New York in the 1920s. What was different from other great books that can also transport you (examples like The Luminaries, The Miniaturist and The Goldfinch come to mind) was that this book kept me there but without making me feel the suffering of the main character too deeply. Which was good considering it’s a horror book!
There are other books that have served this purpose for me, but these are the top three. I re-read them often and in the case of the two first ones, I can just pick them up and read a few pages before moving on with other things. Books can be great therapeutic tools and I hope to someday write a book that helps someone else get through a rough patch.
So, spill, do you too have a book (or several) that has been a source of comfort or a crutch when needed?