Welcome back for another post from the Monday Inspirations series. Today’s post is by Sacha Black. You can check out previous posts here.
For me, the mark of a really good book is not the length of time I remember it, but the way in which I remember it. Some books I chat about, others I exchange laughs or frustrations on, some I even share specific quotes from. These are, in essence, ‘good’ books.
However, some books… some books are very different. These are the books that are inspirational and change you in some way. I remember those books very differently, because they leave an imprint. A kind of scar etched into a piece of your soul where it resides having altered your mindset, your DNA or even your very being. Books like that change you forever.
One particular book that did this to me was A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom by James Howell. I stumbled across it completely by accident. I was reading a magazine which had the shortest review I’d ever seen of a book. But, it was the title that stood out. A Disturbed Girl’s Guide to Curing Boredom??? I scratched my head wondering if anyone else had noticed this peculiar title. Of course, I wanted to read it immediately; it sounded outrageous, how could I not read it?
It starts with this:
‘My name is Hannah Harker and I am a deeply disturbed young woman.’
Well, I couldn’t put it down. But for more reasons than just its rollercoaster of perverted ‘ups’ and dark and twisted ‘downs’. It hooked me into the mind of a killer in a way I didn’t think possible. I felt for her, cried for her, feared for her, but more than anything, I agreed with her. I would have done what she did. But that is so wrong. How could I, a moralistic upstanding mother, even consider doing what she did? Because believe me, she did terrible things. Awful tortuous evils that time and time again the author made me believe were right, ‘just’ even. Hannah has to be the greatest anti-hero I have ever read and fallen in love with.
Thankfully, she didn’t inspire me because of her sociopathic tendencies, nor the moral conflict she made me endure, I was inspired because of the mark it left on me. I had a crisis at twenty-three/four. I lost my way and fell into a dark depressive vat of self-loathing and confusion. Who was I? What the hell was I going to do with my life? The mark this book left on me was irritating, it incessantly weaselled its way into my mind and sung a mantra at me. It called me, reminded me that stories could be written that change people, that scar them, and make them question their values and moral fibre.
Wait… A story can do what now…? Oh yeah, a scrawling mess of black ink on a page can make me question the very foundation of my world-view. I want that. I want to DO that.
And so it was that I picked up the pen.
As it happens, Disturbed Girl is actually one of two books that helped me remember my dream. The other, if you’re interested, is Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. A Disturbed Girl nudged me, inspired me and reinvigorated my shrivelled up brain cells. It prompted me to remember why I wanted to write –
To do what Hannah did to me, inspire, scar and change me. Wyndham told me the genre I wanted to write but, it was A Disturbed Girl that gave me the ‘why’.
And like anything significant in life, ‘why’ is the most important bit.