In honour of World Book Day, I thought I would share a (belated) post on two books that have shaped my life!
1. Daughter of the Sea – Berlie Doherty
A book from my childhood that is still hauntingly beautiful to this day.
A story based on European folklore about a baby girl found at sea, taken in by a family that couldn’t have children and raised as their own until one day her true family come calling.
I re-read this recently, as a kind of experiment to see whether the magic I had experienced as child would transfer to my adult brain and I have to say that it did!
It’s an incredibly sophisticated story for young people, yet effortlessly executed. The characters have layers and the narrative touches on topics that both adults and children can deeply connect with. It’s powerfully emotive: it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.
Berlie is a very talented storyteller and really causes you to look twice at the everyday scenes in your life and wonder if there’s more to life than what meets the eye.
I would say Daughter of the Sea would appeal to anyone who has ever experienced a sense of not belonging.
2. Quiet – Susan Cain
One of the most life changing and affirming books for me personally.
This book sheds light on a commonly overlooked, fundamental aspect of our personalities: the introvert and extrovert scale.
Through the sharing of scientific studies, cultural history and personal anecdotes Susan Cain points out how western society caters towards the personality type of the extrovert and how we can embrace and enhance the power of the introvert.
My whole life I was brought up to believe (mainly by the education system) that there was something inherently wrong with me. I was a quiet child who was overwhelmed in social settings easily. Schools would tell me for years that I had confidence problems. This always felt so strange because I felt confident in my abilities; I just knew I didn’t talk very much.
Eventually, due to being told something so many times, I took on the words “low self esteem” as though they were stapled to my skin. For me, reading Quiet was liberating.
I began to understand my past behaviour. I forgave myself for not being the person I thought I was supposed to be, I stopped beating myself up for not being the centre of attention at parties, I stopped beating myself up for the fact that I don’t even really like parties at all and I began to enjoy my life without self-judgement.
I’ve learned to celebrate and nurture the characteristics I once saw as flaws. I used to often feel as though I was too sensitive for this society. Now, I channel that sensitivity into my work and my writing and I’ve fallen into what is basically my dream career.
I’ve given myself permission to live life in the way that feels right for me, I understand how I’m likely to react in social situations and as a result I think my relationships with other people are a lot more honest. I feel like I am a lot closer to being my authentic self.
I wish I’d have known this information when I was at school!
If you have ever berated yourself for being “too quiet”, “too sensitive”, “too weird” I think Quiet could really help you understand yourself more.
Also it has a chapter titled “when to act more extroverted than you really are” and I just feel like that sums up my life!
So there you have it: two books that have shaped my life! Also, I am currently reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés but more about those another day!
Have you ever read something that was life changing? Let me know what it was!