Monday, 23 March 2009

Books that changed my life

I can’t say that many books have actually affected me in obvious ways, although everything you read adds to who you are in some way. That’s why it’s slightly worrying I still buy Heat every Tuesday. But these books did.

1. Thank you, school library, for bringing me into contact with Children of the Dust aged 11 and thus initiating decades of nuclear nightmares and waking paranoia. Thanks to this book, which I could never read again but used to sidle up to every so often and peek inside, I had to have the radio or TV on whenever I was alone in the house in case a nuclear war had broken out, I had a fun topic for anxiety dreams for the rest of my life where I was trapped with loved ones in a radiation ravaged front room watching everyone die, and I firmly believed for many years that every plane that went overhead could be the one that was about to unleash its payload of nuclear hell on the UK. Having slightly more understanding of the general political situation of the time may have helped, but then again, it may not have done.

2. The Making of Star Trek. I must have quite liked Star Trek already otherwise why would I have picked up this dog-eared American paperback at a Clacton fete? But the book itself was the catalyst for a growing obsession which give me a lot of fun during my teenage years, until the X-Files came along. The black and white photos also made me believe that William Shatner was fanciable, an idea which persisted strangely against all other evidence.

3. What Mothers Do Especially when it looks like nothing. Thank you so much (this is a real thank you not like my sarky thank you in point 1) to ATypicalEssexGirl for buying me this as it arrived through the post like an angel of light at a time when the “mum instruction books” I had invested in before the birth of my little boy were causing me to weep stormily and feel hopelessly inadequate. This book made me cry in a happier way as I recognised at last that I was the mum the author was talking about, and that I was doing the right thing after all, and the boy wasn’t some kind of freak baby who wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing. The NHS should prescribe this book to all new mums as they leave hospital.

2 comments:

opus said...

It's interesting that "Children of the Dust" stimulated your fear of nuclear holocaust. I was always aware of it but could not attribute it to a particular event or experience.
My sons - both in their teens - have different fears. Terrorism and particularly it's random nature is a big worry. I had that when growing up but there always seemed to be warnings and I have to say that I regarded a bomb scare at school - we had a couple - as a good way of missing classes.
The big fear though is knife and gun crime. As a parent I worry about it, but I was only beginning to understand that it is a big factor in where they go and how they carry themselves. For example my younger son will not sit at the back of the bus upstairs. This is percieved as an area from which trouble emanates. Illogical I may argue. But it is a real fear.

Hackney Hackette said...

Yeah, if it wasn't COTD no doubt it would have been When the Wind Blows or that scary scary documentary deemed too horrific to show in the 60s but helpfully screened in the 80s instead.
I'm sure the randomness of terrorism must be very scary for your sons. We had bomb scares too, being a school in a garrison town, but like you they never bothered me, and we didn't have the whole suicide bomber thing. 9/11 must have made a big impression on children and young people.