Greetings readers! Well, it is a beautiful autumn day here in the UK, crisp with a bright blue sky and lots of pumpkins adorning front porches around the street.
I was supposed to be taking a dear friend out today for a bit of afternoon tea, unfortunately a cruel twist of fate has meant that I have had to postpone the date until another time. However, as a silver lining I have managed to empty the remaining boxes left over from our move. Hooray! What’s even better is that those boxes contain some of my most prized possessions. My books.
As I was sifting through the dusty cardboard and taking my time greeting each of my old friends, it got me thinking as to why I still have some of the books I was bought as a child. I realised then that the answer was simple, memories. I was always a child with an active imagination and as a result, I caught the reading bug quite early. My favourite stories were ones that transported me to far off places, for example The Faraway Tree was one of my absolute favourites. As I grew older I still hankered for that magical escapism that books could provide and would happily spend hours in my room reading. This got to be a bit of an issue when we went on family holidays, as I seemed to prefer having my head buried in a book or listening to music – both of which served the same purpose, to transport me to a world of my own imagining.
Those that know me know that I have a rather eclectic taste in literature. I am capable of enjoying classic women’s fiction (when I first read Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary I laughed so hard I cried) as well as books with a slightly grittier theme (read Charlotte Maddison’s Dressed to Kill if you want to know what I mean). Yet through it all, I keep coming back to books written for children and Young Adults. There is something about the authors in those genre’s that have an incredible talent for allowing adults to be young again – it’s one of the many things I think JK Rowling does so well. I am convinced that a large proportion of Harry Potter’s success was that Rowling tapped into something that resonated with adults and children alike, the part that wants to believe in magic.
Anyway, I thought I would share a very small selection of some of the books I have on my shelf.
So, let me explain what you can see if the picture. If we start with the bottom right, you can see a very pristine copy of The Secret Garden, one of my all time favourite children’s books. This copy was given to me by my grandfather when I was about 10 years old, and he wrote a message in the front cover. Sadly, my grandfather is no longer with us and not surprisingly, this book is now one of the most precious things I possess.
Next (bottom row, centre) we have Chocolat by Joanne Harris. My mum gave me this book on loan over ten years ago, sorry mum! The reason I love it so much is not only because it dedicates a large amount of time to my favourite food but also because I adore Joanne Harris’ writing style, the story has so many angles to it and once again I love how Joanne hints at the idea of Vianne being slightly unusual without needing to make it central to the story – again, there is a bit of a magical theme.
Then we come to one of the books I read over and over again as a teenager, The Snow Spider Trilogy. If you haven’t read it as a child, then I encourage you to read it as an adult, it’s magical and slightly unnerving. I always wondered what really might have happened to Bethan.
So now we come to the top row. Starting on the right we have The Secret Circle by LJ Smith. I was given original copies of this series when I was about fifteen years old (I read them so often they feel to pieces so this is the new version!). These days (in fact quite recently) they have attempted to turn this into a TV series. Not my cup of tea if I am honest, as I loved the books so much. This was the series that cemented by obsession for YA fiction. The trilogy follows a coven of real life teen witches and a girl named Cassie as she joins the powerful and dangerous coven. Each of the witches has their own very distinct personality. In all honesty I think I identified more with the feisty and unruly Faye than the pure Diana or indecisive Cassie, but that was the nice thing about the books, there were plenty of characters to choose from. One day I hope someone will make a feature film of these stories, if they kept true to the books I personally think it would be very popular.
My next selection is perhaps a little confusing. Short Cruise on the Vyner Brooke is actually a true story written by a cousin of mine. My family are originally from Singapore and this book tells the story of how one branch of the family were trying to escape the Japanese invasion only to have their boat torpedoed, leaving them to be captured and subjected to life in a detention camp. In Europe we do tend to focus on the Second World War atrocities committed on our doorstep, when in fact there were some horrific stories unfolding in the far east, affecting British soldiers as well as native populations. On that point I have a great story that I will write one day, but I need to get the concept just right.
My final choice is Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, not a writer I would have picked up if I hadn’t been recommended the book by a friend. I am so glad I did read it though, it was gripping throughout and also so sad. I wouldn’t want to spoil the story but let’s just say that Odd Thomas is, as his name implies, odd, but that is what makes him such a fascinating character.
So there you are, a quick snapshot (literally) of why I love certain books and what I have on my shelves. I am always curious to find out what books others love (children’s or adult) so please leave your recommendations in the comments!