Books Save Lives

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A book about rabbits saved my life.

Seriously. When I was twelve, my life was in chaos. My parents were divorcing, my mother was in and out of mental wards, my grandfather was sexually molesting me, I was bullied at school, hated all of my classes, and had no friends. Reading books helped me escape my life. One, in particular, not only provided comfort, it saved my body and mind and had a lasting impact on my psyche.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams, is the epic adventure of a ragtag band of young rabbits who flee their warren (sort of an underground rabbit city made of tunnels and holes) after one of them has a prophetic vision of doom. It’s an anthropomorphic tale in which the rabbits have a religion, language, and forms of government that vary from warren to warren. You can purchase a copy of Watership Down on Amazon–and probably other places. Netflix and the BBC have recently released a miniseries based on the book, but I found some of the show’s deviations upsetting. (The animated film from the seventies stayed truer to the book.)

Adams described the English countryside with an astounding level of detail and beauty that lifted me far away from the refinery-polluted bayous of my home. Even better, the characters who populated the book’s world, despite being lapine, felt like real people. I surrounded myself with them whenever suicidal impulses took hold of me. They replaced the friends I lacked and loved me when my toxic family didn’t know how.

I became a writer because I hoped my fiction might help others get through tough spots in their lives. I don’t imagine my books will ever affect a reader as profoundly as Watership Down affected me, but even if something I’ve written provides a reader with a few hours of amusement–a tiny respite from the real world–I feel like I’ve done my job.

Has a book ever had a significant impact on your life?

4 thoughts on “Books Save Lives”

  1. How wonderful! It’s magic how books appear when we need them. The Golden Pine Cone. I found it in our broom closest school library in Ontario and fell in love with it. It’s about two kids who go on a magical adventure with faeries and Indigenous spirits. I read it again when my kids were small and just laughed. I ended up doing my degree in Indigenous studies, moved to B.C., write fantasy, and faeries…well you know about me and faeries. As authors, I don’t think we ever really know how our writing impacts someone. Sometimes it takes a while to percolate or it just simmers like soup in the background. I’m glad to see your post. Blessings:) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1202932.The_Golden_Pine_Cone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Donna Parker series. While I read as a child, one of the books in this series was the first one I ever owned. I was 12 and the concept that a book could be kept forever, to escape to, was a wonderful revelation. I still have the book and as an adult I have tracked down the entire series to own.

    Liked by 1 person

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