Today is World Book Day (also St David’s Day, and both my sister-in-law and my step-great-niece’s birthday), and to celebrate I thought I would bring you My Life in Books. I’m taking inspiration from the television show, hosted by Anne Robinson, which is running at the moment on BBC2. It invites celebrities to talk about themselves, and the role books have played in their lives.
I have always been a big reader, I learnt to read before I started school, thanks to having lots of older siblings who were, of course, reading at school themselves, and a mum who was willing to sit down and teach me to read.
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I wouldn’t like to say for sure that the Puddle Lane books were the first that I read, but there is video evidence of me reading them! Ladybird books were big in our house, and Puddle Lane were particular favourites of mine.
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Moving on slightly, and as I got a bit older I absolutely loved the Malory Towers books. My sister had an omnibus of the last three books in the series, which I borrowed and read to death. I then managed to get my hands on the first three in the series, and they are all still on my bookshelf, as beloved as ever. I’m not sure what it is about these books that appealed to me so much more than any other Enid Blyton books; maybe it’s the school setting (much more appealing to me than the adventures of the Famous Five), or maybe it’s just the character of Darrell Rivers, who is so wonderful. I’ve blogged (at length) about Malory Towers before; I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving these books, and I don’t think the urge to read them again and again will ever leave me!
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Mansfield Park isn’t the best novel Jane Austen wrote, and nor is it my favourite. But it is the first one I read, and because of that, it holds a special place in my heart! I read it for my English Literature A-Level, and at the time I just loved it. I loved Fanny, I loved the story, and I loved the humour. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me to read Jane Austen before, but it honestly hadn’t. I knew about her, of course, but I had never even thought about picking up one of her novels. Now, I have read them all (except Northanger Abbey), and I know that, whilst Fanny is an enjoyable character, she’s nothing compared to Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse. But Mansfield Park, and my English teacher at the time, are responsible for opening the gateway to my love for all things Austen.
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It would be remiss of me to write a blog post called My Life in Books and fail to mention Harry Potter. I’m sure, when it comes to conversations about great literature, the Harry Potter novels probably still have their sniffy detractors, but I don’t care. I started reading the books in about 2001 (yes, I know I was way behind everyone else), when my friends Jen and Vicky kept going on about them. When it came to the final three books being released, my friends and I were there, queuing at midnight with all the other losers, to get them as they came out, and there was a definite sense of loss with the publication of the final book (my favourite of the series). I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t know about and love the books, and, as pathetic as this sounds, I am truly grateful to J.K. Rowling for them.
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I was trying to think of some of the books that I studied when I was at university, and for some reason most of them have eluded me. This one, however, seems to have been a constant. I actually first studied it for my English Literature A-Level, and then again twice at university. I seem to have a strange relationship with The Great Gatsby; I appreciate its brilliance, and I am drawn to the era that he writes about, but I can’t seem to match this appreciation with an actual enjoyment. It may be because I’ve only ever really studied The Great Gatsby, as opposed to reading it for fun. I have a novella of his, Mayday, from the library to read, and I have actually started it, but I got waylaid with another book (see below), so haven’t got very far with it. One day I will go back and read Gatsby for fun, and see if that changes my opinion on it.
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As a bonus, this is the book I am reading now. I am not suggesting, however much I am enjoying it, that it is going to pass into my all time favourite book list. I am just including it because I am halfway through it. I am very much enjoying it though! It’s ever so good, and draws you in from the minute you start reading it. I have wanted to read it for ages, but I can’t afford to buy new books at the moment, and I had it reserved at the library, but I was number 56 or something, and it was getting to the point where I was just desperate for it (especially as the film is out this month and I want to read it before I see it). Anyway, I had been sufficiently enthusiastic enough about it for my friend Jen to buy the books, and she has now lent it to me. I thoroughly recommend it, even though I am only halfway through!
On My Life in Books, the celebrity is invited to pick their favourite book at the end. I can’t do this. There are too many books out there, and I can’t pick just one, as I enjoy so many. Obviously (obvious if you know me) I would be inclined to pick Pride and Prejudice, but I am not going to, because I don’t have to.
What about you? What books would feature in your list?