Thursday, 12 February 2015

The 10 books that made me 'me'.

So thanks to the lovely Myk, I got book tagged! I don't do memes as a rule, but since this tag is actually a great one, I couldn't say no!

The aim of the game is to post your 10 most formative books.

Here are mine - in the order that I encountered them. Enjoy! Here's a little of why I tick the way I do. :-)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
 I used to have almost all of the Beatrix Potter books as a child, the hardback editions with a dust cover and full colour illustrations. I treasured them, arranged them, read them and kept them tidy on my first bookcase. I couldn't help but love the quaint tales, which were so beautifully illustrated.

These were the first books that I have any memory of reading, and think they definitely influenced my love of slipping away into fictional worlds. My favourites, the ones I read the most, were The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck and The Tale of Miss Tiggywinkle!

Five on a Treasure Island, by Enid Blyton
 I adored many of Enid Blyton's books, but the Famous Five series were the first and the favourites, with the Mallory Towers series coming a close second and the Tales of the Faraway Tree third. This was my favourite Five adventure. I used to love reading about the gang's adventures.

I wished more than once that I could be Georgina, off exploring with Timmy and the gang! I was so caught up with it that I insisted my parents let me add "Georgina" to my middle names (not legally). Being tolerant folk, they obliged, though now I am sure they they thought it ridiculous!

Matilda, by Roald Dahl
 Matilda was one of my favourite fictional characters as I grew up. This is one of the rare occasions where the film was more influential than the book, because it seemed so perfectly cast. I wished more than anything else that I could have Matilda's powers.

I always tried to make things move, but it never worked! I still remember a recurring dream I had as a child, brought on by reading Matilda, where I would fly around our dining table. It was always disappointing to wake up and realise that it was only a dream!

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I still have my well-thumbed copy of The Hobbit from my childhood and still re-read it, though not as regularly as I did back then. As far as I know, this was my first exposure to a fantasy world and I loved it. Hobbits, dwarves, wizards, elves, dragons and gold!? Bring it on! I remember often reading this as a child and being completely lost in Middle Earth.

My first attempt to write any kind of serious story was heavily based on The Hobbit - it never saw the light of day! I have it still - neatly handwritten in fountain pen in the same red file with 'Keep out!!!' written on the front. I remember proudly telling my English teacher at the time that I was writing a book. She laughed at me as though the concept was ridiculous and would occasionally ask me with sarcasm "How's your book going?". I ignored her at the time and carried on writing it, though I still think she's horrible! Really, of all the teachers to encourage creative writing, she should have been number one!

I'm glad I didn't take any notice of her dismissive attitude and ploughed away being creative. I did drop writing for a long time after that - perhaps her words did affect me - but you can't not do what you're meant to do... before too many years had passed, I was writing seriously again.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling
This was the first Harry Potter book I read. I chose this of the first three (which were the only ones released at the time), because the cover appealed to me most. Then I went back and read the first two books - and I've been hooked ever since.

It's weird, because I remember in absolute clarity being in the school library (a beautiful, wood panelled room that was the most magical library you could ever wish for - my primary school was in a Victorian manor house, with all original features retained). I recall the exact moment the moment my eyes fell on the spine of this book, and I reached up to take it down from the shelf. My brain must have realised that this would become a special memory.

I think, of all the books I've ever read, I wished Harry's world real more than any other. I was genuinely upset on my 11th birthday, when I didn't receive my Hogwart's letter. I obsessively read every Harry Potter released after that. I grew up with Harry - in the books and films from then on, I was roughly the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione, so it resonated with me because of that, but most of all, because the tale J.K. Rowling told was genuinely spellbinding.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin ColferAnother very well chosen pick of my parents, brought home to entertain me, that I fell in love with! The first fantasy/sci-fi mix I read, I suppose? In any case, it's impossible not to love Artemis' constant sarcastic put downs, arrogance and clever solutions to impossible problems. I loved all the pickles he managed to get himself into, and how he got himself out of them again, too!

Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I saw the first film with my dad when it was released, not thinking it would be anything special. How wrong I was! We left the cinema and before long I had a hefty copy of the trilogy in my hands and was glued to it. I read it 11 times in the first year that I had it (not joking). Now, it's falling to bits it's so well read! (and I dropped it in that bath one time so it's got a bit of a perm, whoops...)

It was a magical read, like nothing I'd ever read before and even quite different to The Hobbit. The movies only helped bring it to life - Jackson's realisations of LOTR are the only book-to-film adaptations other than Harry Potter that I believe do the maximum justice to the books, because of the excellent casting, resources, effects and the love, care and attention to detail. The Two Towers was my favourite part of the trilogy. I haven't read it in a few years now, though!

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini
I remember my dad coming home from Waterstone's one day with this as a present for me. He'd seen the cover (Saphira's eye) and thought it looked interesting. This was to be the most influential epic YA fantasy novel that I read in my teen years. I read this so many times and eagerly snapped up copies of the rest of the series when they were released. It's now not my favourite book in the series, but I still have a very soft spot for it.

Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn
This was a set text at school for half of the year group. Unfortunately, I was in the other half and instead, we got lumped with Dickens' 'Great Expecatations'. (I hate that book with a passion now!) The fact that this story was a school text put me off reading it for many years, as I assumed it would be similarly horrible, but what a mistake. This book and the rest of the series are so beautiful they are genuinely an art form.

Hearn creates real people, not characters, in a culturally rich real world, living their real lives. They draw you in and don't let go in their twisted mesh of choices and relationships. Just wow.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

This book genuinely changed my life. At the time I was in a job I hated, severely depressed and failing to see the point of it all. My friend kindly sent me this book, her own copy, in the post one day to cheer me up. I read it. My mind was blown. I can't even explain this book - it's one of those that needs to be read to be understood.

I made life changing decisions based on reading this book that have brought me to where I am now - being a full time author. Forever indebted to Rhi, my friend, and Paulo Coelho. Thank you for helping me to see the light! :-)


I won't tag anyone, but I would love to hear what books defined you. If you complete this, drop a comment and let me know where to find your top 10 formative books!



  1. Funny how peter rabbit seems to have done the rounds in just about every household with any kind of British roots.
    Ever been to 'the world of Beatrix Potter' in Cumbria?
    Was lucky enough to start Hp from the beginning my little sister very little at the time handed me her told me very sternly to "READ IT"
    She also loves Matilda too, big time. Although I think it had a lot to do with the cooking.
    Only got into artemis last year really enjoyed the first book am somewhere about 2/3 of the way through the second. Must find and finish reading it.
    Glad someone else put down Alchemist too, was starting get worried about it :)
    Thanks for joining in, that was fun

    1. Thanks for the tag!

      Peter Rabbit is just lovable... :-) I haven't been there, but I would love to! Have you?

      Your sister sounds like she's got her head screwed on. ;-)

      Artemis Fowl is just really quirky, don't you think? Unlike anything else I've read, which is always nice to find.

      Ha. Go team Alchemist! We're cool. Don't let the haters get you down. :P

  2. ooh, now that's an interesting question! I've blogged about my top 10 books (and my top 10 Discworld books), but not my 10 most formative books...

    1. Aha! Then good sir, find yourself book-tagged. ;-)