Doncaster Creates, the dynamic arts programme set up to nurture creativity in the town, has launched The Books That Made Us project as part of the town’s partnership with The Booker Prize.
Juliet Farrar, of Doncaster Creates said “Books play such an important role in our history and culture, but they also often serve as a reminder of the chapter in our lives when we read them.
"Now, more than ever, books can be so helpful in times when social interaction is affected.
“This project is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to share and connect online through their unique stories about books that have impacted them in some way – a book that inspired, comforted, made you smile, question, see the world differently.
"The initiative builds on National Literacy Trusts work 'Doncaster Stories', encouraging children to read, and we are keen to do this by showing them their parents and grandparents sharing details of the books that had an impact on them.”
Local photographer Jamie Bubb will be creating portraits and stories in beloved Doncaster locations about 'The Books That Made Us' for a future exhibition.
Juliet’s chosen book is Wuthering Heights. She said: “The story is often classed as a romance – for me it was way ahead of its time, with social realism, isolation in rural areas and the difference between the haves and the have nots.
"While the story and atmosphere of place (the moors) is wonderful, I think my love of this book is more about the author, a woman, writing at a time when authors were largely men, who killed off the heroine half way through her book! It’s as though she decided to throw everything she knew as successful storytelling in the air and do it differently. She certainly forged her own path.”
Juliet has had a passion for reading from a young age.
She added: “I would read anywhere, anytime, anything! From comics to short stories and whole novels. I think I found that reading for myself, for enjoyment could be different to the school experience but then, in turn, really helped with confidence at school.
"A favourite at about age 12 was Elidor by Alan Garner - set in a gritty urban landscape and the difficulties of real life a group of children take up a quest that takes them to a world of myth and legend. It was about both escaping and succeeding - my mum and I were on our own and struggling quite a lot.
"At a time when I now realise I was a young carer this book was about hope, strength and finding a new horizon.”
Juliet is encouraging others to share their stories at a time when reading has provided a sense of escapism and comfort during the coronavirus pandemic.
She added: “Now more than ever, people need to hear from others - hear about what has brought joy or comfort, or just a fresh idea to follow up.
"Just looking at the current posts at doncastercreates.com - people talking about 'The Books That Made Them' - there's a sense of people having to be alone but coming together around stories, ideas, even the design of a book. It's like contributing to an ideas bank where people can dip in and find something that inspires, is just enjoyable or simply being lifted by hearing someone talking about something important to them - they'll be faces people recognise and introductions to people you might not otherwise mix with.
"Great books connect people and whatever you are reading or have read is important to who you are and could help reach out to someone else.
"It is also part of Doncaster's 'reading story' which we are piecing together over the next few months.
"We'll be receiving conversations about favourite books from all sorts of groups who meet online - if you're having a family get together why not make part of the conversation about your favourite stories, record it and simply send it to us - just a few minutes.”
Doncaster was recently named as The Booker Prize for Fiction’s partner for its regional events in 2020. The partnership with Doncaster Creates will see a series of literary events taking place over the next few months including a search for local writing talent.
Readers of all ages who wish to take part in the project are invited to reveal the books that challenged them or changed their lives by taking a selfie video or writing an anecdote and sending it through to [email protected] Participants will then automatically get the chance to win a copy of one of The Booker Prize shortlisted books.
For further information about Doncaster Creates visit www.doncastercreates.org