Janklow & Nesbit UK

The Reading Cure: How Books Restored My Appetite

In 2002, at the age of 14, Laura was diagnosed with anorexia. Unhappy with herself, unhappy at school, she had seized the one aspect of her life that seemed amenable to control, and eradicated different foods from her diet one by one - until she was starving. But even at her lowest point, she continued to read, with an appetite that was missing in other ways.

This isn't a book about an eating disorder, but about being cured, and what happens afterwards: the pouring in of sunlight after more than a decade of darkness and hunger. Once she'd defeated anorexia, Laura gradually rediscovered her capacity to enjoy food - and life more broadly - by reading. Unfamiliar words in Dickens - a 'jorum' of tea, a 'pottle' of strawberries - made the meals associated with them more savoury. The wounded Robert Graves's appreciation of a pair of greengages changed the way she thought about plenty and choice. Virginia Woolf's own evocation of a disordered mind was as comforting as her painterly descriptions of bread, blackberries and biscuits. Book by book, and meal by meal, Laura developed an appetite and discovered an entire library of reasons to live.

Other books by Laura Freeman