Wednesday, 3 September 2014

10 Books that have stayed with me

Have you seen the '10 books that stayed with me' Facebook meme? You know, the one where - funnily enough - you name ten books that have stayed with you in some way and explain why. I mean, the clue's in the name really.

Anyway, I got tagged in it and as an avowed bookworm of 28 years standing I thought I'd give it a bash. I cannot abide long Facebook posts though - they make my page look messy and upset my OCD - so I've decided to do it as a blog post instead. I'm a rebel like that.

So here are my ten, in some kind of rough chronological order sort of:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
The first book I ever remember reading by myself. It's not big and it's not clever, but my god did I love it. If you're unaware of the highly complex plot, a caterpillar is born and proceeds to eat a lot until it turns into a butterfly. On the way, your author (aged approximately three at the time) learned numbers, days of the week and different fruit. The collage style illustrations are gorgeous too. Apparently this is also George W Bush's favourite book. Make of that what you will.

2. Sam's Sandwich - David Pelham
Another high brow option, Sam's Sandwich is about a boy making a sandwich for his sister and putting lots of bugs and gross stuff in it in the process. This one has stayed with me because I strongly remember my mum reading it to me and I know it's one of her favourite kids books that she's always used in her teaching career, which makes it doubly special because I know what an amazing teacher my mum is and how many other kids loved hearing her read my copy of this book as much as I did.

3. The Jolly Christmas Postman - Janet and Alan Ahlberg
I swear we get out of kids books in a while. Another one that I remember reading with my parents and I loved it because it was reading but it also had little surprises and games in it (I remember a jigsaw in particular) which I thought was basically magic at the time.

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
I think this is the first 'grown up' book I read by myself. I read all of Roald Dahl's books when I was growing up - either for school or for pleasure - and it was hard to pick just one for this list. The Twits, Matilda and The BFG could easily be on here too. I went with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the end because it was the first one I read and I can still remember exactly what my copy looked like (hardback with a purple and orange striped spine if you were wondering). Plus it's just such a lovely story. I think it should be mandatory that everyone read it at least once before the age of 18.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
My relationship with Harry Potter got off to a slow start. I didn't read any of the books and was initially fairly ambivalent to the films (apart from the second one, because Lockhart). Then when the final book was released my dad bought it for me for me basically as a joke (and because it was only £5 at Asda). I reluctantly sat down to have a read through...and from about page 7 was completely hooked. I've subsequently read all the books several times and become obsessed with the series and the world around it. Thanks dad (and Asda).

6. The Liar - Stephen Fry
I read this by the pool on holiday in Greece (Zante, because I am a deeply classy person) and loved it. Stephen Fry's novels are fantastic and this was my gateway into them. It's a fantastically written, fantastically weird story (no spoilers - you should read it yourself) with fantastically realised characters that I think I read in two days, if that. This one isn't included for any sentimental reason or anything, just because it's one of the books I've most enjoyed reading.

7. Beginning - Kenneth Branagh
I love autobiographies so there had to be a couple on this list. I've reviewed this on the blog recently and I just love it. I'm not much of a re-reader but this is one I've read all the way through a couple of times and dip into whenever I need a bit of a motivational shot in the arm. As I've said, it's such an inspirational book (KenBran is my hero on so many levels) and it also contains the following epic quote about being 28 that I just adore: "at twenty-eight, the chances of really knowing something are slim, and the possibility of losing what grasp you do have, great". Preach. 

8. Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins - Rupert Everett
Another autobiography, another book I've reread and another I'm including just because it's so enjoyable. I dip into this one whenever I need a pick me up or am in the mood for some grade A bitchiness. The follow up, The Vanished Years, is also utterly fabulous.

9. Bread - Paul Hollywood
Do cookbooks count? I'm going to say that they do. I mean, it's a book right? Arguably, this book is the one on the list that's had the most impact on me as a person. See, I had a long period of unemployment in 2012/3 and I did not care for it. Which is to say I utterly, utterly hated it and spent a huge amount of tine feeling completely miserable and useless. One of the things that really helped me get through was learning to make my own bread and this was the book that inspired - and taught - me to do that. I've made loads of the recipes from this book and they're all super easy to follow and basically idiot proof. And much cheaper than therapy.

10. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
The best book I've ever read, full stop. Pretty easy really.

Now I know I have some bookworms amongst my readers, so step up people. You know who you are...