Books That Made Me Late

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s let herself get carried away reading and forgotten there were things to do, places to go and people to see. I’m normally pretty good at setting reminders and phone alarms to caution me that I needed to put reading on hold and start dealing with boring daily life, but more often that I’d like to admit, I’ve utterly and miserably failed. That’s good literature for you.

Below are just a couple of books that have made me forget myself and everything around me.

I’m Not Scared

I’d picked up Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared in a mall book sale in Romania. It was November 2007, and I hadn’t really started reading properly yet. In fact, I’d probably chosen I’m Not Scared precisely because it was a nonthreatening, 100 and something pages long paperback with children on the cover. I had no idea what it would be about, and had not read any other of Ammaniti’s books.

After what must have been an endless shopping session, I parted with my friends and got on a bus to get back home. It was raining and already dark. I took the book out of one of the shopping bags and started reading it on the bus, which is something I’ve done a million times since but must have been only my first or second time then. Two hours or so later, the bus had finished its route God knows how many times, having passed my destination again and again without me noticing. I didn’t recognize the surroundings, I was cold and hungry but immensely moved.

I’m Not Scared tells the story of 9 year old Michele, who uncovers a terrifying secret he’s not allowed to tell. I have since read 2 other Ammaniti novels, Steal You Away and As God Commands, but I’m Not Scared remains my favorite of the three, and one of the few books I’ve rated with 5 stars in the past years.

 

Once Upon a Time in England

I started reading Helen Walsh’s Once Upon a Time in England for a book club I used to attend in London, in October 2010. I’d ordered it from Amazon with a bit of a delay, so it only arrived one day before the book club meeting. I got so caught up in reading it, that I was terribly late to the meeting in question. I’d managed to finish it after all, but when I finally got there, in the nick of time that is, more than half of the members had not even started it or had given up twenty pages into it, on account of “not liking the characters”.

I actually quite liked the fairytale titled Once Upon a Time in England. It is a story about racism, relationships, family life, coming of age, differences, set within 70′s-80′s Great Britain’s society. I very much wanted to like it I think as well, which is something that sadly happens to me whenever I read something for a book club. In this case, even though I haven’t been blown away as such, it’s been a nice read.

 

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Penguin Classics)

I had wanted to read Van Gogh’s letters for a long, long time. It all started after I’d devoured Irving Stone’s Lust For Life when I was still in school, and then evolved as I’d gotten more acquainted with Van Gogh’s works via art albums and Impressionism exhibitions. Then, after finally managing to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in December 2011, I came home and ordered the book straight away. It was time.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to read any of Van Gogh’s letters, I’ll only say this. He was a writer. A sincere, sensible and prolific one. I simply fell in love with this book. It’s not happened once that I fell asleep in the early hours, a finger or two hopelessly stuck between the pages as a bookmark. I actually ended up being late for a notorious National Gallery Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition I’d bought tickets for months in advance, simply because Van Gogh’s correspondence with Theo was impossible to put down.

 

Michael Ende, The Neverending Story

It shames me to admit it, but I was annoyingly well behaved as a child. I ate all my vegetables, I put my toys away, I never stayed up past bed time.

It all changed when I discovered The Neverending Story.

I spent school nights on end fascinated, flashlight and book hidden under the covers, and then my days zombie walking from one class to another, itching to go home and carry on reading. It’s still one of my childhood books I’ve got the fondest memories of, and I’ve actually got it as a gift for my sister recently. She’s in her twenties, mind you, but I couldn’t resist the temptation, not to mention it was the perfect excuse to borrow it from her and read it again!

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