I love books, I can't walk past a bookshop without going in to browse and most probably buy. That said, I definitely go through a cycle with reading, six months might pass with no sign of my reading mojo. I am always reading for work, whether that be scripts, research or news, but books and fiction are a totally different thing. I crave reading a good book and feel angry and guilty when I've not touched the pile by my bedside for weeks.
That was one reason that I wanted to get involved in the #thisbook campaign, to highlight the enjoyment and experience you can get with reading. I read to my sons every day and it's one of the most rewarding things to do as a parent. The decision on which book to talk about was pretty easy for me as no other book has affected me quite like this story.
I first read The Lovely Bones about 10 years ago and I had this immediate emotional connection with the book. For those of you who haven't read the book it's the story of Susie Salmon, a teenage girl who is raped and murdered within walking distance of her home. She acts as a narrator through the book, looking down on her family who are trying to come to terms with their loss, whilst Susie herself is trying to figure out her purpose and place in, well wherever she may be.
The connection I made with the book and the emotional journey I went on I think is from dealing with loss in my own family. I guess I could relate to a lot of the characters and their experiences, especially her little sister who is mourning but also incredibly angry and determined to find answers. I first experienced the loss of someone close when I was seven; my cousin Susie died aged eight of cancer. Reading The Lovely Bones reminded me of witnessing my aunt, uncle and cousins trying to deal with that loss.
It is a book that I have bought for a lot of people and also recommended. I bought it for another Aunt a few years ago when she lost her husband. I told her, "Read this. It will help." It is not in any way, shape or form a therapy book, but there is something in it that is incredibly comforting.
There are a lot of different themes that run through the book, not just loss. Family is a huge part of this story and a family that is far from perfect. That and Alice Sebold's direct way of talking about things like death was a real attraction for me, I don't like characters and situations tied up in perfect bows.
In the same way that music can fuel emotions and transport you to a time or place, stories do that exact same thing for me. You can see your situation in the lyrics of songs and the same with characters in books; you can make a connection with them.
I think the thing about this book is that there are loads of different angles that you can come into and connect with. It is quite unique in terms of the story, and how it is being told. A girl looking down on her family, trying to help them deal with it, trying to find your own answers, I think there is something incredibly comforting about that.
The power that the book has when you read it for the first time, something that I have never experienced in another piece of fiction will stay with me for a very long time.
To take part, simply submit your chosen novel via Twitter, using #ThisBook or visit www.thisbook.com to find out more. The most talked about books will be monitored to help identify the nation's #ThisBook Top 20, which will be announced in July 2014.