Today’s columnist, Jess Peace: Books can change your life

Amazon Kindle, portable e-book reader
Amazon Kindle, portable e-book reader
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It was around past half five in the morning and I was on the 53 bus making my way home from a bartending shift in town. I could see a few rows behind me that someone had forgotten to take their book with them and had left it on the seat.

I’m one of those annoying people who likes to read the blurb of the book and both the first and final pages before deciding whether I like it or not. Curious, I picked it up and did just that.

Inside its front pages was a sticky-note, which read: “I hope you enjoy this book…” and on the final page another, “It will change your life.”

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, had not been carelessly left behind but had carefully been placed where somebody might find it – somebody going home on the morning bus. Me.

I’ve always loved books. I can remember when the Kindle came out – there was this universal groan from book lovers.

For a while, it seemed that real books would become a thing of the past. After all, e-books are much cheaper and lighter to pack.

Luckily, there are enough of us who still love books and who aren’t ready to trade in our bookmarks just yet. Besides, the Kindle might just be the least of our problems.

During a recent trip to WH Smiths, I couldn’t help but notice that many of its bestsellers were beauty guides or activity books written by YouTube stars.

Now, I’m not saying that people who are already on a platform shouldn’t write a book; everyone has a story to tell and there is an audience for them. Most YouTube stars seem to be a good role model for kids and in many cases, they offer advice and comfort like an honorary sibling.

But do we really want future generations to forget the good, honest stories?

I grew up with childhood classics like Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter and later, JK Rowling. These too were well-written but they also let you indulge in your childhood, have an imagination and be silly with it. The Twits was a prime example.

Maybe I’m just stuck in the ’90s (blimey, that makes me sound old) and kids today are just reading what’s popular for their generation? I suppose these books are best-sellers for a reason.

Anyway back to the bus book. I read it that same day – it made me laugh, and cry.

Without that night shift or 5.30am bus ride, I wouldn’t have read that book. It might not have changed my life but it did make my day.

They say that no story exists unless somebody wants to hear it, so the next time you stumble across a really good book, pass it on.

*Jess Peace, Journalsim student