The Book That Made Me
Whilst surfing Twitter the other day I came across a new campaign run by Waterstones to get people into reading by sharing their experiences of fantastic books. This could be seen as rather commercial as it is by a bookstore but I think it is a great initiative. Books are powerful tools that allow us to escape the real world and build upon our imagination. They also give us the opportunity to learn things and change the way we think. The Book That Made Me campaign is not just about the first book your read or the one you really loved the best but the one that has made you who you are. I could talk about my love for James Barclay books or the brilliance of Terry Pratchett who first got me into reading as a hobby rather than being forced to (he didn’t come round and beat me around the head till I started to read, it was his books!). One book, however, made so much of an impression on me I feel it changed my whole life. That was a book by well-known TV presenter and author Danny Wallace. The book in question is Yes Man, if you have not read it then I highly recommend it. It is nothing like the movie of the same name with Jim Carrey, in fact only the premise is copied in the film. The book is based on a true story like much of Wallace’s work. He and Dave Gorman are known for their boy projects where they follow through on strange ideas such as finding fifty-two Dave Gormans (sorry, fifty-four including jokers!) or creating their own country. In this case the boy projects had got Danny into trouble and he had split up with his girlfriend. He was constantly saying no to everyone and hiding away in his flat becoming more and more unsociable. When on a bus he met a man who simply said to him, ‘you should say yes more.’ The book then follows Danny as he decides to say yes to everything. This leads him into trouble as well as some really exciting adventures. It shows how your whole world can be turned around by being more adventurous and simply saying one word. I know that saying yes to everything is silly but in the end it all works out for Danny and starts an amazing new chapter in his life. At the time of reading I was suffering badly with anxiety disorder, I did not want to travel far or leave the house much. I had managed to get myself to university but was nervous about the whole situation. There were so many times I said no just to be safe and missed many opportunities.
The book changed my outlook on life, it got me to think about situations and say ‘what is the worst that can happen?’ I stopped beating myself up when I said no as I started to think, ‘am I saying no because I am worried or do I really not want to do that?’ It pushed me to think about what I was actually thinking and know that if anything bad happened I could cope. After reading the book I easily got a first in my degree as I knew that is what I wanted. I started going out more and enjoying life. I had always wanted to travel but had only been to England and France, anxiety stopped me heading off my island of Guernsey too many times. Since reading the book I have also travelled to the Czech. Republic, Italy, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium, Croatia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. I meet my wife at university and it was the idea of saying yes that helped me. I would never have approached a girl I did not know before. So here I am married, a child on the way, almost completed a Master’s Degree and am living miles from where I was born. Not all of this was down to reading Yes Man but it was definitely a large push. Even now I look back and think about where I came from and where I am now. I do not ever want to be in the position I was when I was signed off work, panicking multiple times a day and constantly shaking. Willpower and determination were characteristics I had that helped me through but I do think the experience of reading Yes Man was a massive help. I can still see the cover when I make a big decision even now. So Danny Wallace I thank you. Right I am now heading to The Book That Made Me website and submitting my story. Why don’t you submit yours?