If you’ve checked out the ‘reviews’ tab, it won’t have escaped your notice that I go through a fair amount of books. I love to read and have done for as long as I can remember. Some of my strongest memories are tied to books, and thinking of their titles or the characters in them brings them all back; just as the smell of perfume or freshly cut grass does for some people, the thought of a certain book lights up my imagination and reminds me of who and where I was when I read it. My poor parents tolerated my endless requests for story time as a toddler, fortunately for them I was able to read alone by the time I was 5 or 6 and save them from endless rounds of ‘Spot the Dog’ and ‘The Giraffe the Pelly and Me’.
One of my earliest book memories is courtesy of Helen Nicholl;
Mog and Meg. My parents’ garden, the sun is shining, I’m age 4 and sitting on my favourite red chequered blanket, which still lives in the outhouse at Mum and Dad’s place and smells just the same as always. I’ve picked pea pods from the plants growing up the bamboo sticks separating the lawn from the vegetable patch, removing the peas carefully whilst keeping one eye out for bumble bees. Mum has read me the story, and she’s hanging clothes out on the line whilst I look at the pictures.
When you read a lot of books, you can’t help but think about all of the things you read and forget. I like to think that they aren’t forgotten, but stored in a library inside your memory, one that you unconsciously refer to day after day. There are though, certain books I remember most strongly, stretching as far back as the time before I could read by myself. This tells me that the books we do remember aren’t just memorable because of their characters and storylines, but because of the memories and feelings they evoke – the significance of the time we read them and how we related to the book.
It then happened that when I was reading a blog entry here [Elle Darko’s Musings] the chance to talk about the ten books you remember most strongly seemed like a great idea. I tried not to think too much about my list of ten, so much so that it amounted to 12. But here they are, and in no particular order:
1. Five on a Treasure Island (Enid Blyton)
2. Wizards First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
3. Shantaram (Gregory Roberts)
4. Magician (Raymond E Feist)
5. The Name of The Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)
6. Lady of Hey (Barbara Erskine)
7. Not a Penny More not a Penny Less (Jeffrey Archer)
8. The Hobbit (JR Tolkein)
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling)
10. Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
11. The Belgariad (David Eddings)
12. The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak)
So in testament to books as memories, experiences that tie into your sub conscious just as the people you meet and the things you do; I’m going to take each book in turn and tell you a little about the book and what it means to me. Without books, I would never have ‘experienced’ many of the things I have, and the powerful feelings that a literary experience provokes can only lend itself to impact on building who we are, our imagination, our outlook and our sense of adventure.
“It is what you read when you don’t have to, that determines what you will be when you can’t help it”
- Oscar Wide