How I found my favourite books

Dan O’Neill 2016-03-03 4 min read

For World Book Day, I thought I’d share a few little stories about how I found my favourite books…

When I was in secondary school, I was pretty much a nerd. I played on the school’s hurling and football teams but I was fairly standard nerd. I read quite a lot, mostly did my homework, was half decent at chess (but have no patience so not that good) so I guess that qualified me as a nerd.

The library in the school was decent, but we spent next to no time there. I enjoyed school but didn’t put a whole lot of time in - I did ok in all my classes but enjoyed English, Maths, Physics, and History. I didn’t do any better in them than the other classes but I enjoyed them. I had a good relationship with my teachers too I think.

I can’t remember the year, or the name of the teacher, but that teacher used to pick out books and I would read them. One day he lent me a copy of a book called The Lord of the Rings. I remember thinking how big it was. I skimmed it, read a couple of pages from a few chapters over a couple of days and promptly gave it back. I just couldn’t imagine reading a book that big and long. When asked why I handed it back so early, I lied and said I read it. Everyone knew it was a lie, but we moved on.

But I couldn’t move on totally, the threads of stories stuck. Eventually, we moved house when I was a teenager, I didn’t know anyone so had a tonne of time on my hands and I went back to it. And wow did I love it. Even now, I give it a read every now and again, and am currently listening to the audiobook on Audible.

I used to spend Sundays as a child in either my Grans house or my Aunts house. I loved my Grans house because she always had dogs, and I loved my Aunts house because my cousins had great books and music. There I listened to the Chemical Brothers (Exit Planet Dust - what an album) for the first time, and one of my cousins gave me a book called Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I’m not sure I could have read it at a more perfect time in my life. It was all the angst, struggle, and overcoming of adversity that I needed to escape my own angsty early teenage years! I absolutely drank it in - I used to keep the light on in the car so I could read it all the way home, or stay up late reading. Imagine how annoying have the light on in the car so I could read was for my Mother! Anyway, I read it twice in quick succession. Loved it. My love for the Ender’s Game is only matched by my hatred for the sequel. But hey, it doesn’t take away from the first one.

Those same cousins shared another book with me that stuck, but not just one but a whole series The Discworld books by the late great Terry Pratchett. I started out with Mort and was instantly hooked. What a book. Death. ALL CAPS. Blinky! I was hooked on the series. I own every single one of the discworld books and some of them are amongst my all time favourite books. Terry Pratchett gave me, and everyone else who reads the books I guess, an amazing universe where rocks talk and get jobs, goblins run the clacks, and where Sam Vimes keeps the peace. Only one other author, Bill Bryson, has made me laugh as much.

So yeah, books. They’re the best. Pick some up, and escape to your own imagination, with a little narration thrown in by a great author.