I’ve just been challenged on Facebook to list 10 books that have stayed with me for whatever reason. They don’t have to be classics or great works of literature, they just had to make an impact on you.
The trick is not to think too hard about this. Which books have stayed with you? And why? Here’s my list:
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit” and I was hooked. The Hobbit was the very first book I read in English cover to cover and it remains one of my favourites. It was my gateway to Middle-Earth. My copy is littered with highlighted words, all the words I didn’t know and had to look up. It’s the foundation of my love for literature and the English language. From The Hobbit I graduated to The Lord of the Rings.
Everything is illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
This book was recommended to me while I was on my Gap Year and I was looking for new material to read. It’s set in Ukraine and told from the view of a local man, who acts as tour guide and interpretor. His English is all wrong, he says “distribute currency” instead of “spending money” but as someone who had to learn English as a foreign language, I totally get it! It’s hilarious, once you get used to his mismatched English.
Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson
I had to narrow it down as I love all of Bill Bryson’s travel books. He’s the reason I went into travel journalism. I read Notes from a Small Island just before I moved to the UK and thought that surely, he had to exaggerate every now and then. I read it again after living in the UK for 6 years and now I can say: He does have a point!
On the road – Jack Kerouac
My introduction to the Beatniks, purchased at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, 50 years after it was first published. As a traveller who knows the roadtrip lifestyle, this book was a must-read for me.
Whalerider – Witi Ihimaera
I will always associate this Maori story with my stay in New Zealand as we had to read it at college. Maori, just like many indigenous people, are under-represented in mainstream literature, so this story that gives insight into a Maori community and culture is something special. It’s a beautiful and sometimes heart-braking story, and my escape back to Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud.
Dead Poets Society – N.H. Kleinbaum
Dead Poets Society – the book actually came after Dead Poets Society – the movie. John Keating has been my teacher as much as he’s been the teacher of the boys at Welton Academy, encouraging individual thought and making the most of your life. Those were some profound lessons, oh Captain, my Captain!
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Despite being more of a fantasy than sci fi girl, Hitchhiker’s stayed with me, mainly because I love and feel for Arthur Dent. Give the guy a break, he’s in his jim-jams! Oh, and who doesn’t like a story with a motley crew of species and a manic depressive robot? Sometimes I wonder whether Douglas Adams just took a bunch of Scrabble tiles and shook them about to come up with some of the names used in the story.
Kinder- und Hausmärchen – Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
German born and raised, various Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm were my bedtime stories. They weren’t just the well-known ones like Hänsel & Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin either. My favourites included All-Kinds-of-Fur (aka Thousand Furs), The Star Money and Mother Hulda. These fairytales gave me my imagination, and think every child should grow up with fairytales.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Required dystopian reading in school which I actually liked. As a lover of books and literature, who likes to show off books on various shelves, a story in which books are banned and burned in favour of TV intrigued me. 451 degrees Fahrenheit is also the point at which paper auto-ignites – a fact I know solely because of this book that has saved me in many a pub quiz’ general knowledge round!
Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Before you ask, I don’t have a set favourite out of the 4 novels and 56 short stories. Sherlock Holmes was my introduction (at age 8 or thereabouts) to detective stories and I’ve loved the sleuth ever since and tried making deductions myself (with limited success). I do have a soft-spot for Dr. John Watson. he deserves way more credit than he gets for being a soldier, doctor, amateur detective and biographer as well as surviving with Sherlock Holmes as a flatmate!