Alex Cleveland, September 11, 2019

A person’s relationship with a book is a unique and intimate one. At certain points in our lives, under a specific set of circumstances, as a result of a series of choices and decisions, we pick up a book. Our reflections and interpretations of that book are therefore influenced by so many different things, making each interaction utterly unique and noteworthy in its own right. So now, looking back, which books changed our lives.

AJ: The book that changed my life is “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho. It has completely changed my perspective on life and life goals. It has taught me that the universe will always lead you down the path that is right for you, even though we may not think it’s right at the time.

Alex: Such a difficult question. I feel so much of who I am has been shaped by the things I’ve read. I think I’ll say “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. It’s one of the novels that opened my eyes to what literature can achieve, and it’s the book that started a life-long love affair with colonial and post-colonial literature. But there are so many. “1984”, “Midnight’s Children”, “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee. They’d all be up there.

Helen: Books that changed my life – “Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles” by Julie Andrews. The Professor always looked up when he was walking and was forever bumping into things, I remember that when I’m walking and looking down. Also, “This is going to hurt” by Adam Kay, I cannot believe doctors learn like this, I wanted to buy every doctor a coffee after I’d finished it.

Becky: “The Colour of Magic” by Sir Terry Pratchett. Books like this build up an incredibly complex world inside your mind and naturally, as you get further into the story, you begin to visualise the characters, the place, the sounds – putting your own spin on the story that allows what you’re reading to be interpreted in a completely different way. And that’s why it changed my life. I realised afterwards that nobody would have read it the same way I did – and that fascinates me in a way that a film or TV series never could.

Ella: This book (The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters) definitely had a massive effect on both my professional and personal life. It takes anyone who reads it to a much calmer approach to the unpredictable (an everyday obstacle for anyone in our industry). For fst, it’s ideal as it’s a strategy for achieving your best in every way.

Sophie: I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it changed my life, but The Great Gatsby did encourage me to try and live a decadent/lavish lifestyle whilst you can!

Suzanne: “River God” by Wilbur Smith. It made me want to actually read books and to explore the world and its history.

Annalize: The book that literally changed the course of my life was a simple 2012 university course overview. I had a fixed opinion that I wasn’t the “university type” and was not academically capable of earning a degree. Fortunately, at the end of secondary school it was a compulsory task to demonstrate we could write a cover letter for application to higher education, should we ever need to. I reluctantly wrote one, that was eventually accepted by my tutor. With little thought I picked up the “USW Creative Courses” booklet for 2012 and selected the first course on the alphabetically sorted list – “Advertising Design BA”. I had no idea how life changing that seemingly insignificant moment would turn out to be. My A-Levels were followed by an acceptance letter from the University of Newport, South Wales, and having graduated with first class honours, I found myself relocating to Marlow in England to join fst!