Until I read Anne Frank's diary, I had found books a literal escape from what could be the harsh reality around me. After I read the diary, I had a fresh way of viewing the both literature and the world. From then on, I found I was impatient with books that were not honest or that were trivial and frivolous.
One of the things about being raised British in Africa is that you get this double whammy of toughness. The continent in place itself made you quite tough. And then you've got this British mother whose entire being rejects 'coddling' in case it makes you too soft. So there's absolutely nothing standing between you and a fairly rough experience.