I stole this list from a Facebook status courtesy of Happy Indulgence. I would have done this the proper way, on FB, but I know myself. I would have rambled on for far too long and taken up too much space on people’s news feeds. Instead, I’ll do it here and people can choose whether they want to read the list or not. Here were the Facebook instructions:
“In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just the ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends.”
So, here goes nothing.
- Stoner by John Williams.
This book changed the way I look at life. I try incredibly hard every day to capture the emotions I felt after closing the last page. See, William Stoner is an unremarkable man who lives an unremarkable life and nothing really happens. But the way John Williams writes the novel, celebrating the magic in everyday life, is something of which I really needed to be reminded. Stoner didn’t regret his mistakes, he made do with the consequences. And that’s some advice that we could all do with keeping in mind, yes? If you want to hear my full gushing “review”, just click here.
- Being Jade by Kate Belle
While Stoner may have changed my life, Being Jade changed the way I view love. Romantic love, that is. The main characters, Jade and Banjo, love each other almost to the point of destruction. But their love is different from all of the loves we read about in other stories. Jade isn’t faithful in the way we all view faithfulness. She has multiple sexual partners through the almost two decades of her marriage to Banjo. But she never loved any of them. She would always return to Banjo, the love of her life. We question her love for Banjo and Banjo’s blind and all-forgiving love of Jade all throughout the novel, but right at the end we see just how much Jade really loved Banjo. And so what does that mean for our societal definition of love? Do we need monogamy to truly love someone? Or is love stronger when tested by temptation? When temptation is succumbed to and then let go? This book gave me some serious thinking to do. I go into more detail in my “review” here.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
These books were my childhood. The first proper novel I ever read was Philosopher’s Stone. I can remember it vividly. Mum went into the bookshop, leaving me in the car for some reason. She was supposed to be coming out with the new Pokemon book but instead she gave me the first Harry Potter. And my first opinion of it?
“But mum, there are no pictures!”.
Harry Potter was my first foray into fantasy. From Hogwarts, I then travelled to Idris, Vampire Academy, Midcyru, Carvahall, and so many other wonderful places. But without Harry, Ron, and Hermione, I may have never found the wonderful world of the fantastic.
- The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
This trilogy made me want to be a better writer. It has everything: amazing characters, intrigue, depth, complexity, magic, love, friendship, and it’s set in London. The characters in this series are the benchmark I carry for deciding whether characters are decent or not. Anyone who has spent any length of time talking to me abut books would know this. I carry these books in my heart always.
- Avalon High by Meg Cabot
I may have outgrown Cabot’s stories at this point in my reading career, but her subject matter gave me the basic outline of what I want to write about when I finally have time to put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. Cabot always managed to seamlessly mix reality with unreality. And I loved that. I wanted to bring some elements of magic into the real world too, just like Cabot. High end fantasy is all well and good but there is usually way too much exposition going on. When mixed with reality, magic can simply be magic. Plus, I always liked the idea of ordinary people stumbling upon the extraordinary, because I like to think that there is a magical world living under the banal one we all live in.
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was my very first favourite author. I read everything he wrote. Well, everything he wrote for children. And Matilda just happened to be about a girl who loved to read in a world where watching TV was more acceptable, and who was clever when it was more acceptable to be average. I saw a lot of myself in Matilda, just not the whole telekinetic powers bit. Plus, the ending with Matilda and Miss Honey? That was just lovely.
- Run by Gregg Olsen
Everything about this book was genius, but that’s not why it’s on this list. This book was a lot of things that I usually wouldn’t read: gory, murdery, short. But I gave it a chance and found that it’s OK to step out of my comfort zone every once in a while because you can find gems like this. I am currently trying to buy books that aren’t fantasy to supplement my usual diet of magic and mayhem. This book made me change everything up and I am incredibly grateful to Run for that. For a more detailed account of my Run experience, click here.
- Anything by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman is a genre writer who commands the same amount of respect as any capital L Literary writer. He’s escaped the stigma that attaches itself to all genre writers. He is a singularly gifted writer, but I love that it is possible for a genre writer to garner at least a little respect in the literary community. Gaiman gives me hope that one day the classical authors could one day include those who wrote about the supernatural.
- A Fatal Tide by Steve Sailah
This book taught me that it is OK to leave books unfinished. If a book is going nowhere and is just awful, it is OK to close the pages and walk away and not subject yourself to the sheer frustration that is shitty writing. You can read my review if you want, but it’s more just a rant about how terrible A Fatal Tide actually was.
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
This book was simply genius. It was every kind of writerly genius you could possibly think of. But it was genius and accessible. So many works of literary genius are impossible to read for pleasure, but have to be dissected and each sentence deciphered before the story presents itself. But not Cloud Atlas. It was entertaining as well as being the most intelligent story I’ve ever read. Cloud Atlas taught me you don’t have to be one type of writer or another. You can be both pop fiction and highbrow literature. And that is an important point for aspiring authors.
So, the instructions say to tag 10 people, but instead I just choose to tag you, the person reading this. Write your own list either in the comments, on Facebook, or on your own blog. I would love to see which books made everyone else’s lists!