Facebook – Book Nomination

I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to select the 10 Books that have ‘stayed with me’ – So I thought it would be nice to share them here too (you will notice some repeats from my previous posts and lists) but here it goes, in no particular order.

1) The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – I know it’s not a singular book, but the whole series captivated my imagination and gave me an incredibly immersive reading experience. I felt that Hogwarts was my home and I will always love Jo for giving me, and many others like me, a truly amazing book series with some of the best characters created.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a book I read at High School and I remember falling in love with it straight away. It was easy to imagine the surroundings, the characters and the tensions. It’s probably one of the first books I read that made me feel heartbroken at the injustices and ignorance of society.

3) Matilda by Roald Dahl – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, minus the horrible parents and scary Miss Trunchbull, I felt that Matilda was a reflection of myself when I was younger. I found more contentment and happiness in books and powered through as many novels as I could get my hands on. It warms the heart.

4) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – The copy I own is literally falling apart, I’ve had to cello tape the spine together and have to be very careful with the pages, as some of them are loose. I adore this book, about three very different girls, who become sisters at an early age because of various tragedies. But each one with a different life ambition to the other. This book taught me that it’s ok to be different from other girls and that no matter where you come from, you are capable of achieving great things.

5) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A book, I sadly, only read this year and one I regrettably wish I would had read a lot sooner. It takes an unflinching look at living day-to-day life with depression, and the painful journey to recover some normality and become you again. Quite heart-breaking but incredibly poignant and well written.

6) 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane – Technically this a play, but again it deals with loss and depression and was written after Sarah Kane’s partner passed away. It’s quite a harrowing read as Kane reflects on her incredibly personal experiences of dealing with grief. It’s quite fragmented as a read, but it provides an insight into subject matters that are usually pussyfooted around. A fine piece of writing and theatre.

7) Dracula by Bram Stoker – Incredibly atmospheric, well written and one of the first vampire novels I read. This is an absolute classic and is partly responsible in my life long fascination with vampires, much better than Twilight and the book to film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is an absolute feast for Gothic Horror fans everywhere.

8) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I adore this book. It was the first book by Austen that my dad gave to me. And I became absorbed in the time period, I thought, and still do think, that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest female literary characters ever written. So intelligent, headstrong and outspoken. A classic book, which I will never tire of re-visiting time and time again.

9) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Not only have I always loved Christmas more than anything, but also this book has so many morals and lessons to teach. A book that can save the soul and give a whole new perspective to just how beautiful and lovely life can be, if only you step back and stop being so self involved.

10) King Lear by William Shakespeare – This tragedy is probably one of Shakespeare’s finest pieces of work and yet doesn’t seem to be as favoured as other work. Truly heart-breaking but incredibly well written and filled with plenty of drama. If the ending doesn’t have you sobbing, I don’t know what will (Psst! I’m referring to the bit where Lear carries in Cordelia) Feel free to share your Top 10 in the comments section below.

Happy reading fellow bookworms!

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My Top 10 Favourite Childhood Books

I think, even now at 29 years old, it’s always a good idea to pick up one of your favourite childhood books and give it another read. For me, it keeps me grounded, reminds where I’ve come from, helps me get in touch with that little girl I used to be and helps me feel incredibly nostalgic as I reflect back on my happy childhood. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my 10 Favourite Childhood Books. These are in no particular order and are books that I read in the 90’s.

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Matilda by Roald Dahl – Oh, Matilda. I lost count of how many times I snuggled down with this book. Roald Dahl created something of perfection here, and in this blog alone, I have referenced how often I felt an affinity with the girl genius that was at her happiest getting lost in books. As well as being a delightfully intelligent, it’s also life affirming, humorous and warms the heart. What more could you ask for?!

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Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – The edition I have of this is all tattered and the pages are falling out, but I will never throw it away as I bought it when I was with my dad. Aside from being something of sentimental value, it was probably one of the first books I read where I feel I learnt the lesson that’s it’s ok to be different. It’s ok to not like ballet, or acting or things that are viewed as more suitable for women. The bond between the sisters was lovely and I loved reading the book to see how they changed over the years, and loved the way they turned their fortunes around. This will always be one of my favourites.

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The Secret Island by Enid Blyton – This book taught me a sense of adventure. There was something fascinating about a group of children escaping to their own island and creating a habitable place to live. Fruit, milk, eggs, making their beds out of the leaves and wood on the island. There was just something incredibly romantic about it all.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling – The book that changed my life. I was 12 years old and had just started High School. From the first chapter I was hooked, and I experienced the same magic and sense of true content that I felt whenever I read a Roald Dahl book. I felt like I was home. The storyline was incredible, and obviously the famous line that eerily came true “every child in our world will know his name!” Just writing this paragraph makes me want to re-read the series again.

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Heidi by Johanna Spyri – A charming little read about how the gift of joy can help lift the human spirit. You will fall in love with the scenic beauty of Switzerland and the way Heidi touches and changes the lives of those around her and helps them overcome their own pain.

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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – This one taught me how life can change so quickly, but by staying positive, whether that be through using your imagination to cope with the difficulties you face, or befriending others, you will be ok in the end. I loved the film adaptation of this too, and loved how close Sara was with her father.

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The BFG by Roald Dahl – The book that introduced me to human beans, which has stuck through my life and is now the way I refer to the people I love in my life. My fiancé, for example, is one of my favourite human beans. The BFG started off with the “witching hour” and Sophie, our protagonist, spotting a giant stalking the streets and blowing things through bedroom windows. When the giant snatches Sophie, it was easy, as a child, to feel scared, but that’s part of the book. It teaches you not to judge by appearances, as he is a friendly giant. That’s one thing I will always admire about Dahl’s work, is his ability to take something hilarious and exciting, yet underlay real life lessons. The BFG is a delightful novel that shows the triumph of kindness, good winning over evil and will introduce to you some rather delightful words, like snozzcumber.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling – The second book of the boy wizard, that came out in the 90’s. Things were really kicking off at this point, and the development of the storyline was really coming together. I remember how intrigued I felt, trying to discover who was petrifying the characters. Not only that but we also meet the loveable Dobby for the first time. Now excuse me whilst I go and cry.

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Tall Thin and Blonde by Dyan Sheldon – It wasn’t that this book was particularly well written or had much intelligence or humour behind it but it spoke to me because I wasn’t like the other girls. I know we have all experienced that time in our High School years, where we feel like the ugly ducklings or have a social awkwardness, which prevents us from saying anything remotely cool to our crushes. But this book taught me that it’s ok if you’re not tall and slender, or have curly hair or highlights, what matters is that you stay true to yourself and the things in which you believe. It was also my first introduction to guys with piercings and a more alternative look, it had me hooked.

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I love this book. A book that was given to me by father, and I watched the BBC’s adaptation with my mother. I didn’t ‘get’ the scene where Colin Firth jumps into the lake when I was younger, but now I’m older, I can understand why my mother exhaled and blushed. But I digress. I genuinely cannot fathom why some people dislike Pride and Prejudice or do not understand Austen’s writing style. It has often been said that she was a shallow individual who only bothered with the monetary aspect of love. This is ludicrous, it’s all about women having a choice and a voice in a time when they were just meant to sit there and look pretty. It was about having the power to refuse and say ‘no’ I fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet. To me she was intelligent, wise and outspoken, she played her cards close to her chest and was someone I admired. Mr Darcy, although a pompous, arrogant snob at first, soon became easy to love, especially when you found out about Georgiana and Wickham and the way he dealt with the issue. It’s a perfect novel; Austen was and is, one of the finest British authors. I can’t wait for her to be on a £10 note. Long live Austen.

Buzzfeed Books.

So I did a post just the other day about how much I love Goodreads. A site that acts like a beacon for book lovers all over the world, but I thought it was only right to mention another great little treat for us Bookworms out there. By now, we’re all familiar with Buzzfeed and it’s ability to pull together the most accurate and hilarious lists on Primary School Years or Things Only Short People Will Understand. But just last night, I came across possibly one of the most accurate lists compiled. You can view it here – http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/signs-youre-addicted-to-books-reading?utm_term=292iux8#292iux8

But I thought I’d go through the points that I could empathise with (which was pretty much all of them, bar one or two) and explain why I can relate to them so much.

1. When you were little, books were your best friends in the world – They’ve used a gif from the film Matilda with this and I felt like I was home. My childhood soul mate growing up was Matilda (as you may have noticed in a previous post – my parents were not scary and my school didn’t have a tyrant like Miss Trunchbull) but growing up books were my go to security blanket. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends, but kids can be cruel. I was bullied a lot as a child, and books didn’t hurt me, or say mean things. They just accepted me. So right from the start of reading the list I was smiling and nodding my head.

2. When you’re reading a good book, you forget to eat or sleep – So ok, this one may be a little far fetched, but if I’m reading a book and dinner is served, I will wait until I have at least reached the end of a paragraph or page until I tuck into my meal. The same with sleep, I can’t just stop reading mid sentence, I have to be at a comfortable place to put the book down.

3. This is all you think about when you picture you “dream home” – As a logophile/bookworm, it would be pretty silly of me, if this WASN’T my idea of a dream home. Just look at all those books, I feel giddy just looking at the photo.

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4. Walking by a closed bookstore is torture. When they’re open, you’re incapable of going in without buying something – Yes and yes. Quite simply, I hate ‘shopping’ in the traditional sense. I’ve never really been one of those girls who gets her nails done and has regular retail therapy. Despite being 29, my mum is always telling me I need to buy new clothes, but the truth is it depresses me. I walk into these shops with their neon lights and mannequins wearing all these bright and daring cuts and colours and my mouth goes dry. My hands start to sweat and I start tugging at my hair. I always inevitably panic buy a pair of jeans (that are like the other 3 pairs I have) a jumper or a cardigan and if I do buy a dress its black and white. Books fit all sizes and types of personality, they suit everyone. *Please note that I do own some nice clothes, but they’ve either been bought for me as Christmas gifts, or I’ve shopped from the safety of my home minus the queues and dressing rooms of clothes shop*

5. Anytime you undertake any idea or project, the first step is to read a lot of books about it. You assume that a book can teach you anything Well, yes! If I was to wake up tomorrow and decided I wanted to be an Astrophysicist (which I did want to be at one point) or become an expert at fixing cars, I wouldn’t be able to just go out and do it. A certain amount of studying would be involved. Ergo, it makes sense to read up on a project.

6. You would never shame someone for reading. But you’re happy to shame them for not reading – Yes! Now, before you all start screaming at the computer screens claiming I’m ignorant, I know reading isn’t for everybody and I know some people don’t have the concentration for reading, or just don’t find it appealing. That is fair enough, what I don’t like are the people where the conversation goes something like this; Person A: ‘WHY are you reading that?! It’s so bad!’Person B: ‘Oh, well I like to form my own opinion on something. I take it you’ve read it then?!’Person A: ‘No! But I’ve been told it’s shit!’ Person B: *full on death glare* Don’t criticise something if you haven’t read it, tried to read it or at least read an excerpt from it. Don’t try to shame me for wanting to read something when you have no interest in reading it at all. Just go away.

7. You make decisions about people based on the number of books they have – Ok, so this one isn’t necessarily true. It’s great if you go to someone’s house and they have a bookshelf because you can speak to them about their books; see if you have any of the same reading tastes. But what I will not tolerate is people who claim to have never read a book. I smell a slight hint of nonsense my friend, even if you haven’t read a book since you left school, the chances are you have probably read at least one book in your life. Not only that, but a statement like that is so incredibly offensive to the people of the world who don’t have the ability to read because of learning difficulties or the fact they live in a 3rd world country. Just, no!

8. But when someone reads a book you recommend them, your faith in humanity is completely restored – I get SO excited when people ask me for book recommendations. I feel quite flattered that people want to read something new and exciting and have come ask my opinion on what they should try out. Like my opinion matters, because in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t. Books, like anything else, are subjective to the person reading it. What I love and adore someone else could detest. But still it is nice to recommend something, have someone read it and then hear what they have to say when they come back.

9. The book is always, always, always better – I do love a good book to film adaptation but when you read a book, and it’s such a personal experience. It’s immersive; you can create your own idea of how that world looks, or how those characters sound. Plus the bonus of a book is you often know what the characters are thinking and feeling.

10. One of your life’s greatest pleasures is the smell of old books – Every book I buy, whether it’s brand new from a bookshop, or bought fourth hand from a pop up book stall on the street, I always smell them. I’ve had a few strange looks for this in the past, and people have even told me it’s gross. But I just like to think, especially if it’s an old book, just think for a second what journey that book has been on, who has owned the book. The book itself is a story of it’s own and I’m just smelling it’s journey through time.

11. Book violence concerns you greatly – I will not tolerate people who use books as coasters for their coffee cups, or break the spine of a book. Stop being violent to them. It takes a lot of time for that book to get where it is, from the first idea sparked in the authors brain, to re-writes, edits, proofreading, printing…All those stages it’s been through just for you to get it and throw it around. Books are priceless little gifts, treat them with respect.

12. Finishing a book you loved is like losing a best friend – This sums up how I felt about the Harry Potter series. The long waits between each book, racing through them because they were so well written and when it got to that final book, trying to pace yourself because you know as soon as you finishing reading that’s it. But looking at this from another perspective, I can pick up a book and revisit those pages again and still feel the same things over and over again. That’s the beauty of books, once you’ve invested in them, they’ll never let you down.

Like I said, I did relate to most of the Buzzfeed list but these are the ones that REALLY spoke to me. Go check out the list, you may find yourself empathising too.