Why me visiting a bookshop is basically the same as a kid in a candy store

I am a self-proclaimed lover of books and recently I have been wondering just why I love them so much. There is no shop that I love more than a book store; I go in and have to be dragged out with people having to stop and double check I haven’t run off again- I’m pretty much the two year old sister my best friend never had. I’m not quite sure why but seeing books makes me so excited and happy and being around other people who feel the same just makes me feel so at home. But ultimately it is just a few hundred pages filled with words so why is it I spend so much of my life looking at them, reading them, maybe even attempting to build a career around them?

Books have had a huge effect on my life; they have taught me a lot. They have opened my eyes to entirely new perspectives: they mean I can visit a different century, planet, and an entirely different lifestyle. I’m sure if I read the same genre by the same author from the same year, I wouldn’t think this and there are definitely books that don’t teach me as much but I can read a book and gain an understanding on something I knew nothing about like psychology books that explore introversion and mental illness. I finish them feeling like I’ve gained knowledge.

Books are educators, they preach acceptance and to me are the physicality of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. They build bridges between people, some of my strongest friendships have been built on a similar taste in books, I love talking about them and sharing them, comparing thoughts and seeing how the same book can take on a different meaning depending on the reader. They are such a personal form of education, I don’t think that there’s any format that you can see into someone’s brains and really understand an idea as much as you can through reading. Certain books can change a generation or flip a view on its head- books have made me more open-minded like The Outsiders by SE Hinton as before reading that I think I would have prejudged people more, now I think anti-heroes are important.

Books are relatable- I honestly think there is a book out there on every problem I’ve ever had or ever thought of. I’ve learnt things about myself through reading about these characters that I relate to and when I see them in an entirely different situation to my own, it inspires me to change. Seeing a character develop through the course of the story makes me want to develop as a person and makes me feel like I can too, there are countless books that have made me feel braver or made feel like I can do something: Evie from Am I normal yet? made me see that mental illness should be talked about, not made fun of and hidden, Frankie from The disreputable history made me realise that girls should not hide their intelligence to make boys like them, Blue from The raven cycle helped me understand that we can’t always follow the path that our parents want for us and that first impressions are often wrong. That is to name a few, there are countless books and characters that have given me infinite lessons that I use in my life.

A teacher told me the other day that books and other forms of printed word were a thing of the past- they are to be replaced with documentaries and films. Don’t get me wrong I do love films as well; I do however think that a world without books would be sad. Maybe it’s the hoarder in me but I love being able to archive things and being able to actually hold my thoughts and ideas or someone else’s in my hands.  So I suppose this post is me asking for books to stay circulating, for bookstores to remain open and for stories to continue to be shared through a few hundred pages and a few million pairs of eyes.

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London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning Review

‘Bitch is just a word that boys say when they don’t have the power to hurt you anymore’

London Belongs To Us is a contemporary, centring around Sunny, a 17 year old planning to meet up with her long term boyfriend to lose her virginity. However instead she is sent a picture of said boyfriend on the other side of London kissing another girl and a wild goose chase with two French boys, a girl band and a broom ensues. What I was expecting from this book was a light hearted, typical teen romance and it was all of those things but with so much more. The book discusses feminist issues, issues around race, gender, sexual orientation, divorce, unconventional families, to mention a few.  Not only does it discuss them, it bluntly confronts them; there is no sugar coating in this book. Our main character, Sunny, is mixed race, and this becomes a main focus of the book, one of the scariest scenes being when Sunny is harassed and sworn at in the street for being seen with Jean-Luc and Vic, two white French boys.

One of my favourite things about this book was the way it tackled slut shaming and girls putting other girls down. Sunny is not perfect, for half of the book she refers to the girl her boyfriend kissed as a slut. While this really irritated me when she said it, she was called out on it which I appreciated. There was a really touching point in which she finally meets the girl and rather than starting a fight, they end up complementing each other, a girl supporting other girls is a message that cannot be spread enough. Another interesting feature in this book was that at the start of each chapter there was a couple of paragraphs describing the history of each place she visited; I think this would be a great book to read in London or just before visiting because the descriptions made me want to go so badly. Before the chapter started there was usually either a pie chart detailing what was going on in her head at that point or a background story like ‘A history of my hair’ which was really helpful as the book only spanned over a night so it was a really good way for the reader to understand the backstory and motivations of the characters.

Okay, now I’m done raving about this book, I’m going to go into the few criticisms I have.. While most of the book was written well: it was easy to read, the characters voices felt real etc. near the middle of the book it kind of lost its way for a little while. A few of the characters voices became weirdly irritating, and seemed like the dialogue of entirely different characters rather than the ones that had been there from the start. I think around this point the author was trying really hard to make her characters sound like typical teens but because she hadn’t set out to do this from the start, it just felt weirdly out of place. Luckily, this only lasted for a few chapters and there voices returned to normal after that. Another problem I had was that while I loved what we did see of Jean-Luc’s character, he wasn’t really developed enough, we got a few hints into his life but mostly his plot didn’t really have the space to grow with all the crazy plots and events the author was focusing on instead. It was definitely a busy, sometimes vaguely confusing plot. A lot was happening over these 12 hours but with the character development of Sunny being so drastic, they needed a lot of craziness to make her personality change make sense.

Overall, I adored this book and would probably give it 4/5 stars. I have been searching so long for a book that spanned over a night or a day that was actually well executed and this is it. The characters were weird and wonderful, especially her badass best friend who was brutally honest in the best possible way because she reminded me so much of my own best friend.  I loved the crazy events, the important life lessons and the conclusions this book came to. Next time you need a pick me up with a message, give this one a go.