Bethany Davies is a Welsh language enthusiast, TikTok content creator and historian.
She lives in Llanelli with her husband, where she makes digital content about her passion for history, the Welsh-language, and culture.
“My taste in books has grown and developed with me, that’s the beauty of reading, there are so many different genres and stories you can get involved with.”
I was a big reader when I was growing up. I’m one of five children, and my siblings loved Harry Potter. Due to my age, I missed the hype around the books when it all started, but because I’m the youngest of five, my siblings’ enthusiasm rubbed off on me.
During my adolescence, I enjoyed reading Perks of Being A Wallflower, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Fault in Our Stars – these books really defined my generation.
Following this, I started reading the classics, in particular Pride & Prejudice and Wuthering Heights. My taste has grown and developed with me, that’s the beauty of reading, there are so many different genres and so many stories you can get involved with.
There were lots of books I read at school, especially in my younger years, that helped me to cultivate a sense of ‘something’ bigger than myself. In a series like The Hunger Games, I learnt to empathise with the characters, in a narrative that was otherwise quite unrelatable. These were otherworldly situations, which shouldn’t be relatable to a twelve-year-old girl in Llanelli, but because of the humanity of the characters, they were.
One of my favourite literary characters is Hermione Granger. I love her. I do tend to lean towards strong female characters, who show their strength in a variety of ways. Strength isn’t always shown in an obvious way, it can be a quiet confidence. That’s what I love about Katniss Everdeen, the female protagonist in The Hunger Games books. She’s a very strong female lead, but she also has a vulnerability that makes her relatable to readers, especially young teenage girls.
“Reading and books helped me invest in my interest of history, which encouraged me to study it at university and make it my career.”
My love of history came from books. My parents spotted my interest in history at a very young age, and encouraged me in any way they could. When I was learning about The Holocaust at school, they bought me Anne Frank’s Diary, to deepen my understanding of the topic. By the time I had to decide what path to chose after school, reading and books helped me invest in my interest of history, which encouraged me to study it at university and make it my career.
“Reading through the medium of Welsh can help you connect with your Welshness in a way that confirms to you that it’s there and the language is very much alive.”
My mother started reading to us in Welsh at a very young age, so much so, it became my first language. My mum was a Welsh learner and it was helpful for her to read Welsh books to us, because she would learn as we were learning. When reading these books I felt connected not just to my mum, but also to my siblings, and my Welsh identity.
Reading Welsh language books also helped during my history degree, as I specialised in Welsh history. I was able to translate Welsh resources into English and employ my understanding of Welsh in a very practical way.
On a personal level, reading through the medium of Welsh has helped me connect with my Welshness in a way that confirms to me that the language is very much alive and thriving.
People on TikTok often ask me ‘How can I better my Welsh skills?’ and I ask them ‘What are your favourite books?’ I then recommend they find a Welsh translation of those books, and read them side by side with the English copies. That way, you can learn words and phrases in a way that is familiar and fun.
The Welsh language is such an integral part of our society. It’s a pillar of our society, the language our ancestors spoke, and it’s part of our cultural heritage. As a historian, this means so much to me, as it’s a way of connecting with familial heritage that’s been lost. For example, my mum comes from family with a long line of Welsh speakers, but by the time she was born, Welsh had fallen out of favour and she wasn’t taught the language. She took on the responsibility of learning Welsh herself, and books definitely aided that process.
“It’s a form of connecting with who I am, my interests, and allowing quiet time for myself.”
I enjoy reading at night – I find it relaxes me and it gets me off social media, especially with my line of work, I get so caught up with the next video I need to create, or reading and replying to comments coming through. As much as I love it, it’s so good to have that downtime. Reading is a form of self-care for me, I’m investing in myself. It’s a form of connecting with who I am, my interests and allowing quiet time for myself.
“Because I am disabled, reading acts as a source of spontaneity and thrill.”
Representation, identity and talking about important issues within books is crucial. I am disabled, and believe representing marginalised voices, especially when it’s done respectfully, is so impactful. Some people feel so lonely in their struggles, even if they have a fantastic support system. Representation of these communities in books can offer that extra layer of understanding and support. I also find it can help you put into words a feeling that you can’t otherwise explain or understand yourself – sometimes you understand things more when it’s happening to other people or characters in books.
I’ve read a lot of books from two perspectives and stories that flip between characters. Through these I’ve learnt a lot about myself and how I read situations. They’ve taught me to be a bit more mindful of different situations and to be a little bit more open-minded, knowing that I can have my truth and other people will also have theirs.
Because I am disabled, I don’t always get to do the things I’d like, or in the way that I would like to do them, so reading acts as a source of spontaneity and thrill when I’m feeling quite stagnant.
For families or children finding it a bit more difficult to get new books, I’d recommend looking into what your community can offer. Different areas may have different initiatives or resources available. Being part of your local library is a wonderful way to continuously read new books and find diverse types of books. I’d also recommend joining a book club, it doesn’t always have to be in person you can also do a digital book club. Swap books with friends so you don’t have to necessarily buy new books. There are ways to discover new books and improve your literacy that are also cost-efficient.
Bethany’s Reading List
- The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
- Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets