Stored Readers' Life-Changing Reads Part II

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We showed you the first instalment of books Stored readers found empowering, and now it’s time for round two.

The below stories were shared as part of our amazing Hachette/Virago 13 book giveaway bonanza (winner announced soon) - and are about stories which made your fellow readers stronger.

A novel or nonfiction tale which taught them something about the world - or something about themselves - and which has lived on inside of them long after the final sentence was read.

 

 

THE BONE PEOPLE by KERI HULME

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The thing about the bone people is it’s brilliant. Its beautifully written, swirling narrative interweaves heavy topics you’d typically rather turn away from – child abuse, alcoholism, cultural alienation.

But confusingly, there’s also so much love in the story. You can feel it. These characters are simultaneously special and yet so flawed. Your heart aches each time they stuff things up.

It’s one of rare books that you can read over and over again. And each time you discover a little bit more - hidden parallels, a clever turn of phrase, a foreshadowing of what’s to come. That’s when you realise the depth and complexity of the story. You realise, holy moly, Keri Hulme is a literary genius.

The bone people was turned down by numerous publishers before eventually being picked up by a feminist collective. Fast-forward two years after it was published, the bone people woos a bunch of international literary bigwigs to win the Booker Prize.

What feels like an intrinsically New Zealand story has struck resonance in other hearts in other places.

And so here you have a novel that purposefully defies convention in form, content and style. It’s rejected and rejected and rejected again by publishers. But with the support of other women, it is held up for the world to read and marvel at.

That’s a kick-ass way to show the world, Keri Hulme.

- Jolene Williams

 
 

 

THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS by ROBERT MUNSCH

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As an adult I read a lot but never seem to remember titles or authors, I am the sort that just picks up a book and “gives it go”.

But one book that I can remember, one that empowered me unwittingly as a kid was The Paper Bag Princess. She didn’t need her fancy clothes or her privileged prince to defeat the dragon, or to live happily ever after.

This is the one title that I remember beyond the classics and I look forward to gifting it at every children’s birthday I get invited to.

Here’s to independent womanhood and sustainable fashion!

- Claire Kitson

 
 

 

THE BOOK THIEF by MARKUS ZUSAK

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A book that I was just enraptured by was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Growing up I loved reading. When I was in primary school the students weren't allowed in the library at lunch time but a teacher of mine, who knew I loved to read, set up a secret club with me and two other friends.

It was called 'White Rabbit'. We had to knock quietly on the library door and give the secret password "White Rabbit" and then we were allowed into the library to explore and dive into as many little worlds as we wanted.

Slowly as life got busier and high school began I read less and less. For some reason though, I pickled up The Book Thief and fell in love with another little world.

Liesel Meminger made me realise the importance of reading once again. She was a young girl who put her life at risk just to get her hands on a book. As she learnt to read I was drawn into her journey and it's stayed with me ever since.

She is a powerhouse character who develops deep authentic relationships with everyone around her, the outcasts, the bullies and the ones who love her most.

Damn, I just want to be like her and writing this makes me want to hide under my desk at work and read the book all over again!

- Grace Bucknell

 
 

 

EVERYTHING EVER WRITTEN by THE SENSATIONAL JACQUELINE WILSON

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I still remember the moment I found my first Jacqueline Wilson book on the shelves of the Nelson City Library.

The sun shining on my back through the glass windows which bordered the children's section, the faint smells of dusty paper mixed with commercial cleaning agents, and the mysterious stains on the teal coloured carpet.

When I plucked a brightly coloured book with simple cartoon illustrations on its cover from the steel shelves, I didn’t know just how important the words on these pages would become to me.

A few chapters in, however, I started to get a fair idea.

I used to go to the library after primary and intermediate school to wait for my mum to finish work, and would often greet her outside with a stack of 11 books to take home - the maximum you were allowed to issue at once.

I began by devouring the usual suspects, The Babysitters Club, Enid Blyton, Margaret Mahy, stories I can’t remember the names of but which usually involved adventurous children from large families, befriending animals, writing letters to pen pals, and constantly taking the moral high ground.

But it wasn’t until I met Wilson’s characters - the girl named after Marzipan, the troubled Tracy Beaker, the bullied Cookie, the rebellious Bad Girls - that I realised how boring they were.

Wilson’s characters had problems which couldn’t be solved with a car wash and sleepover (looking at you Kristy, Mary Anne and Dawn). They were the children of acrimonious divorces, they were bullied, they felt alone, they made unwise decisions: There were slivers of me in each of them.

As I graduated to the Young Adult section, snuck Bryce Courtenay, Marian Keyes and Danielle Steel from my mum’s bedside table, the series of 100-plus books might have fallen off my must-read radar - but there will always be a Nick Sharratt illustration-shaped place in my heart for Wilson and her girls.