My reading tastes have changed and matured along with the rest of me. Here’s a reflection on what I thought was a ‘must-read’ at certain points in my life. What books do you remember reading as you grew up; did literature influence your life in any way?

My younger years

Despite being sat rather uncomfortably on a concrete floor, arms folded and legs crossed like a good child with some watered down milk (at least that’s how I remember 1995-1997 at primary school), I really enjoyed story time as a young child, being read to from a A2 sized picture book. As I got a little older, these would be replaced by Dick King Smith books – the teacher would hold them to herself, occasionally looking up to make sure we were all still paying attention.

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At night, as a little girl, I was allowed to choose a story – usually it would be something Disney related, like the Jungle Book, or The Aristocats. Alternatively, I’d pick Roald Dahl’s stories, such as Matilda and the Fantastic Mr Fox, to be read to me, but it wasn’t until I was about six or seven that I was encouraged to read by myself, quietly, at school.

Teenage years

Like most people my age, the Harry Potter phenomenon encouraged me to read more when I was a teenager. It was the first series of books that I looked forward to being released. I remember checking my calendar religiously and wondering when my grandmother was going to send me the next book. I’d be forced to close my ears to not-so-pleasant friends and classmates, who’d already read the whole thing and who were trying to spoil it for me by telling me which character had become a victim of the second wizarding war.

I remember getting a little too attached to certain characters; not much has changed – even with a TV series, the second I decide I like someone they get killed off soon after. I remember re-reading Sirius Black’s death over and over again, then seeing the fifth film at the pictures with friends. One shared my pain but the other friend just looked at the both of us as though we were insane, but I remember it feeling so real, as though I’d lost a member of my family. Looking back, this seems a little over-dramatic, but that was how well written I thought it was.

Adult Years

Now that I’m a little older, I have to confess that I’ve read all three E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Rather than focusing on the whole ‘love and sex’ part of it, I found myself focusing on the character’s personal problems, imagining having such a creepy boss, or a partner who I could only touch in certain areas because of his past.

I recently became a fan of Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series as it’s similar to Fifty Shades, though I like the characters and their development a lot more. I also looked into what other novels she’s written and I must say, I’m impressed at the diversity of her stories. Her historical novels, that I downloaded onto my e-reader, really helped pass the time during the last few months I spent at my family home.

E-readers vs. Books

ID-10093729Speaking of E-readers – whether Kindle, Kobo or any other tablet – I don’t have a problem with them personally, but I do find that I read more quickly. This can be a good and a bad thing, as I find I can enjoy the same book over and over again, but I miss things on the first read through. I still buy the occasional paperback if it catches my eye in town (especially if it’s on offer, as I’m a sucker for a bargain!); I know a few people, like my own Nana, disagree with them. I think, as long as you keep track of what you purchase there shouldn’t be an issue. I think it’s a good idea to perhaps buy the smaller books as tangible items but download larger books, just to save space in the home.

I don’t think that, as a reader, I should have to decide whether or not I always use one or the other. I like both paperback and E-reader and see the arguments from both sides, but at the same time, I’ve always believed that everything in life is down to personal preference and what a person’s gut tells them is right.

Are electronic books your favourite, or will you always champion the 2D versions?

Rachael Norton

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