Recently, I was tagged in a Facebook post asking me to list the 10 books that have stayed with me in some way. They didn’t have to be great works of literature or classics, just ones you can’t forget. I loved the idea as, to me, that is the sign of a good book – one you can’t put down and can ever completely let go of. After posting my list, I thought it might be fun to share it here:
1. Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation: I remember being read this book at school (it would have been when it first came out in 1978) and loving the idea of a girl my own age going on a great adventure in another world where she meets amazing creatures and monsters and uses her own ingenuity to overcome them and get back home.
Children having adventures also appear in my next two books:
2. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
3. Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
I think these books helped me learn that life is an adventure and children can do and be anything they want. I really want to instil this idea in my daughter and all three of these books are already sitting on her bookcase for when she’s a bit older. The Famous Five series may also have had something to do with my love of mystery and crime fiction including:
4. A is for Alibi by Sue Graton: I fell in love with Kinsey Millhone straight away for her independence and her “old school” detective work. I’ve read every one of the alphabet series, making Sue Grafton my most read author.
A is for Alibi was released when I was a teenager in the early ’80s, a time when I was slowly figuring out what I like to read. I think this might be the same for a lot of people as it is a time when you are becoming your own person, with your own passions and interest. For me, these included gangsters and vampires:
5. The Godfather by Mario Puzo: This was the first adult book I loaned out of the library and I couldn’t put it down. It was also the most violent too (how times have changed thanks to my addiction to crime fiction – now being shot at the tollbooth seems like nothing at all). This is one of the only books I’ve ever re-read on a regular basis and my first addition copy has pride of place on my bookshelf.
6. Dracula by Bram Stoker: Growing up, I spent more than one sunny day in Whitby. Reading Dracula, then, seemed like a rite of passage. This book drew me in from the first page and scared me half to death as a teenager. Even now, I feel the need to sleep with the lights on when I’m reading it.
7. Emma by Jane Austen: This book I read as a teenager because I had too – it was assigned for English Literature. I am so glad it was, not just because I share it’s name. I don’t know what I had expected – something dry and dull I think – but it was witty, clever and full of strong characters. Loved it!
Strong women also appear in my next two choices:
8. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood: This isn’t the first Atwood book I read or the last but it is the one that has stuck with me because of the way it looks at friendship between women, something which (sadly) I have found can be toxic as well as wonderful, and how we are formed not just by who we are but how we are perceived to be.
9. She Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor: I love history, especially the Tudor period and Elizabeth I because she was our first powerful, female, monarch. She wasn’t the first powerful female to make an impact on England though. This book looks at those women and makes me wonder what would have happened if they had been able to rule in their own right, not through the men in their lives.
The last book on my list is also about politics but this time of the working class.
10. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell: This book was recommended to me because I have a real interest in politics but over the years have moved away from being politically active. I think a friend thought I needed to re-engage and this book did the trick. It reminded me why we have a labour movement and a welfare state and why it’s important to defend and stand-up for them. The world would definitely not be as friendly a place for the working man and woman without them.
And that’s it. 10 books that I can’t let go of. Have you read any of them or what would you put on your list – I would love to know.