Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Fifteen Books In Fifteen Minutes

Hopefully I've introduced a few new readers to my blog today. Hello if you are new. I've been writing this blog for a while (all good authors should have one I'm told) but struggling to find what I want to say. I thought this post would be as good a one as any to use as my first to a wider audience as it concerns books as opposed to pop culture, technological disasters or food.

Sorry for the lack of pictures. I am not that savvy but I will try to get better.

Thanks very much for coming.

Alison xx


I can’t remember the exact rules for this (except I remember that were some) but I think the idea was to list 15 books that will always stick with you without thinking too hard about it:

(I cut and paste it afterwards into chronological order, does that count as thinking too hard?)

Five Go Adventuring Again – Enid Blyton

I was six years old and we’d just moved house. My dad wanted to get the kitchen done and so my mum, brother and I went off to Carlisle (on a train!) to visit her friend, Auntie Rita. Rita’s husband (a ringer for Uncle Quentin if ever there was one) gave each of us kids a book and this was mine. It is the second of the Famous Five books and was possibly the first ‘proper’ book I read all by myself. A childhood reader was born.

Lights, Camera, Love – Gailanne Maravel

When I was about eleven I saw two girls I was scared of sitting outside the library. They followed me in. I didn’t want to turn right and go into the children’s section (my natural habitat) and so I turned left into the adult section and, ignoring all assembled great literature, discovered the American teen section where I remained blissfully for the next four years or so. Is Lights, Camera, Love the best Sweet Dreams book I ever read? No. Do I actually prefer Francine Pascal: Sweet Valley High and specifically The Caitlin Trilogy? Undoubtedly. But this was my first.

Is This It? - Bob Geldof

I read this when I was about thirteen. It was a couple of years after Band Aid and Live Aid and I turned directly to the chapters concerning those things, at the end of the book. That was the Bob Geldof I knew, and the only one I thought I cared about. Very quickly I stopped reading and started the book properly. The phrase ‘searing honesty’ has become over-used, but this is it and it’s wonderful. The writing has the same raw, poetic quality as the Boomtown Rats lyrics and Geldof’s life is endlessly fascinating and intrinsically valuable. This book makes you want to be a better person.

The Long Walk – by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)

On holiday with my family I ran out of books to read and so I had to read this one belonging to my brother. I couldn’t put it down. It was the first book that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. It is part of a collection of four novellas, all excellent, but this one – concerning a televised contest in a Dystopian universe – details the darkness within the human condition and foresees reality television. One hundred teenage boys start walking. And do not stop.

Castaway – Lucy Irvine

A ravishing, sensual book about one woman’s love affair with an island. I could read it time and time again. Irvine writes beautifully – whether about vomiting during extreme malnutrition, catching a shark or allowing the sun to make love to her through her belly button. This book is responsible, more than any other, for the adventurer in me. I like stories about survival of any kind, and this is one of the very best. I admire much about Lucy Irvine but mostly the sense you get from this and her other two books that she is never half-hearted about anything.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A set text for my GCSE English Lit. In a characteristic display of laziness-slash-genius I also chose this as my wider reading essay for English Language GCSE and used it two years later for the basis of a 2000 word essay about Civil Rights during my General Studies A’ level exam (Great Art Can Change the World – Discuss). As I write this entry I remember that it also informed much of my dissertation (The Archetypal Role of the Young Girl as a Narrative Device) for my second-class degree in a Mickey Mouse subject.

Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

I was nineteen or so when I first read Gone with the Wind. I hadn’t seen the film properly (but I knew the gist) I had never spoken to anyone who’d read it, I think I had picked it up at least once before and failed to get into it. But this time I was hooked. It is one of my favourite historical novels and part of the reason I love America. It is a misunderstood book, I think. Either that or I am not as clever as I think I am.

Second half to come soon...

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