When I was growing up, I used to love reading Goosebumps. They were really popular at the time, and each story was a little grotesque and scary enough for children. Whenever we went on holiday, I would make sure to buy a few to read while sat around the pool. When I became a little older, I started to read a series called Point Horror, which were also a little creepy. I don’t have any particular strong memories of when I was very young, but I do remember that I thought reading was really difficult. We would be given books from school to read like The Magic Key with Biff and Chip. I loved reading them but I found it pretty difficult at the time. I got into the habit of reading everything and anything I could to practice. I would read advertisements and menus and magazines. I would badger my parents with questions about how to read something or what that word meant. I guess I haven’t changed much now. Living in Japan, I’m always trying to improve my reading ability, so attempt to read everything I see.

Even now, I have such an active imagination and loved reading fantasy fiction about magic and faraway lands. The first book to ever make a true impression on me was Room 13 by Robert Swindells. My interests have slightly changed over time, and these days I enjoy reading non-fiction and autobiographies. In particular I enjoy reading inspiring books and self-development books. Sometimes they end up being only temporarily inspiring, but I always feel I have learned something from everything I’ve read.

I was working in a bookstore in England when one of the Harry Potter books was released. I didn’t realise how popular it was until the day of the first sales. I started reading the series, and instantly fell in love. I think I’d always lived in a fantasy world in my head, so it was strange how it all seemed to be down on paper. I’ve re-read the series and watched the films over and over, and each time I find new ways to enjoy it. Another book I couldn’t put down was Memoirs of a Geisha. I didn’t really know anything about Japan at the time, and despite it being fictional, it sparked my interest in the Far East.

Unfortunately, due to the Internet and smart phones etc. I find I don’t read as much as I’d like. I made it a habit to read every morning and evening on my commute to work. I tried using a Kindle and using my phone to read, but it’s not the same as a paper book. I feel like I don’t absorb anything when reading on an electronic device. Thanks to this new habit, I can get through quite a few books that I’ve wanted to read. When I look around the train in the morning and see everyone glued to their phone, I’m always pleasantly surprised to see someone reading a book. Reading broadens the mind and gets you thinking about all sorts of ideas and ways of thinking.

Some of my recommendations:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – No explanation needed.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – I couldn’t stop reading this!

Stop Saying You’re Fine by Mel Robbins – Okay, the title sounds like a typical self-help book, but trust me. I watched this lady’s TED talk, and immediately bought her book. It’s about how to stop making excuses, and how to stop putting up with mediocrity.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – My friend sent me this book, and I loved it. It’s about a Londoner who relocates to Denmark for her husband’s work. She attempts to understand why Danish people are so happy.

Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb – I loved this book! The author discusses turning life into a kind of video game where you level up and have goals to reach. It’s really well written and really inspiring.

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson – I really admire Richard Branson and the things he’s achieved. He’s never afraid of taking risks and challenging himself. I really respect his attitude towards life.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – I wasn’t sure where this story was going to go. Even though I was living in Japan, I saw a different side to the country and people.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – A popular choice on reading lists. It’s filled with lessons and wisdom, and a little adventure.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – It sounds like a silly choice, but it made me realise that I didn’t need many material items, and I should surround myself only with the things I love. It helped me to free up space in my tiny apartment. I try to follow the steps twice a year.


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