Books and I

I keep seeing people receive the ‘Booker Award’, which means they get to talk about books that have influenced them, nominate people to do the same and then they get to display the award logo. I don’t normally wish for awards, as my lack of self-worth likes to tell me I don’t deserve them, but well, I always wanted that one. Then I realised I don’t need an excuse to write about my favourites, I can just do it, so here it is: novels that have impacted or taught me something.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is by far the favourite novel on my bookshelf. From the first sentence I was hooked without knowing exactly why. It’s just good. It’s like a lullaby, but an exciting lullaby. I can’t explain – after that last attempt I’m not going to try again. I pay tribute to Neil Gaiman for being the first man to arouse my interest in fantasy – fantasy where anything can happen, and it’s believable.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet 
Ah, such an immense, vast novel. This spans years, and so many dramas, lives and dreams that you actually do become immersed in another world. They often say that about novels, but this is the first novel where I have become completely engrossed, such is the complexity of the novel’s world.

Beloved by Toni Morrison 
This is another book that draws you in so subtly, you can’t pinpoint why. I didn’t know anything about this book before I read it, and only heard afterwards that it’s regarded as the author’s greatest work, which in turn has annoyed a lot of readers who argue that her other works are better. Odd debates about which is best aside, this is a fantastic, hot blooded read. You’ll understand what I mean about hot blooded when you read it. I’ve (still) never read anything like it.

The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Aw, I couldn’t very well have a post about books which have impacted me without putting down this cheesy thriller that I read at the age of 10. Oh, Point Horror, where would our adolescent horror thrills have come from without you? Goose-bumps ain’t got nothing on some of these Point Horror Classics. This book has been my favourite story for so long, even with my acknowledgement that I should have grown out of it and it’s not particularly well written. Well, whatever guys, there’s a killer loose on the island and a vulnerable young woman falling in love so meh!

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
This novella astounded me. It was perfect. I enjoyed it so much more because there was no explanation for the characters predicament – it just happens, and you’re thrust into the middle of the problem and that’s that. This is perhaps where the perfection comes from for me: it’s the only story I’ve ever read (so far) that can dump the reader in the middle of a situation that’s completely ridiculous and impossible and you don’t even mind, you just accept it and follow the character with concern and hope, other stories seem to always need to provide explanations to have a sense of realism.

Collected Short Stories by Roald Dahl
Oh, Roald. This author is the master of not only the twist, but also taking everyday and sometimes, mundane people, and giving them these absurd and thrilling situations to work through. He takes the normal and turns it into a story. His ability to infuse fantasy, or magical, elements into everyday tales is incredible. The short stories I’m referring to are all written for adults – when I discovered he’d written for grown ups and not just children, I was excited to be able to take him with me into adulthood.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
One of the classic, notorious novels favoured by teenagers trying to look cool all over the western world. Well, I read this when I was a teenager out of curiosity  and knew nobody else who’d even heard of it, so I suppose I became that pretentious teenager for a while. It’s such a… I want to say ‘boring’ but don’t misunderstand, it’s a captivating version of a mundane couple of days, that you’re not sure if you like, but you can’t stop reading.

Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte 
I remember reading this in one sitting one summer afternoon, and loving it. Of course I loved Heathcliffe, I was seventeen! I realised characters don’t have to perfect. I wanted so badly for Cathy and Heathcliffe to admit and work on their flaws, but alas, some stories teach you that what you want to happen often won’t – Pillars of the Earth was also a great teacher in this lesson.

The Five Great Warriors by Matthew Reily
These books are the only adventure novels I’ve read, and I loved them despite the overusing of exclamation marks, cliffhangers and narrow saves. The reason this is up here is because these books made me realise that in the fiction world, you can do anything.

Watermelon by Marian Keyes
This is one of the first books to make me laugh out loud. I don’t care that her main audience are 40+ year old women, I loved it. This book made me understand that you don’t have to be embarrassed to admit you like a book written for a demographic that isn’t your own, and you can definitely list these books as favourites even if they’re not the literary masterpieces professors put on pedestals. I honestly do not mean to sound offensive, Marian – you’re great! So was this book! I just know the reaction I’ve had to admitting I’ve read your books – a look as if I’m silly, and a slight scoff at not choosing the likes of Dickens or someone fancy instead.

There you go, a sample of my favourites, and all of which have impacted me in some recognizable way. I believe every book we read has an impact on us, some are just greater than others. What books have impacted you?


24 thoughts on “Books and I

  1. Nice post.

    “This book made me understand that you don’t have to be embarrassed to admit you like a book written for a demographic that isn’t your own, and you can definitely list these books as favourites even if they’re not the literary masterpieces professors put on pedestals.” AMEN TO THAT. It’s exactly how I feel about Eat, Pray, Love. I adore that book, and I am clearly not a middle-aged woman.

    Other books that have had an impact on me are Tom Perrotta’s Little Children, James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce (guess I like books starring Kate Winslet), Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw, and Elizabeth Kelly’s Apologize, Apologize!

    1. I have that book sitting on the shelf in the lounge and should really put it on the to read list! So it’s good? Excellent.
      Haha Kate Winslet is fantastic after all, I guess if she picks to play the characters you’ll know they’ll be good in their original books.

    1. It’s funny how you the more books you read, and how adding diversity to your reading list can open up your mind so much. Reading has helped me come to so many conclusions and to realise opinions I might not have ever questioned before.

  2. Some great books here – I love Dahl and Kafka, and almost all your other books are on my to-be-read list! I especially need to read Matthew Reilly…friends of mine are family friends with him, apparently he’s really nice and down to earth.
    A lot of books have impacted me in a variety of different ways, but I think Catch-22 will always take the top spot of having had the biggest effect on me – apart from emotional effects, it also got me back into reading and writing heavily, helped me connect to what is essentially a lifelong passion. 🙂
    Lovely blog here, by the way!

    1. Matthew Reilly is awesome, never get bored during one of his books and awesome too that you know someone who knows him (just realised I sounded like ‘happened to a friend of a friend of mine’ haha.)

      Ah, Catch-22 there’s another I have to put on my to-read list, it’s getting very long.

      Thank you 🙂 Yours is also lovely hence my following you almost immediately haha 🙂

      1. Oooh yes, you must read Catch-22. Don’t worry, my tbr list is ridiculous. I have over 100 books on my shelves yet to be read, and then probably another 200 on a wishlist that I intend to buy. That’s literally years of reading 😛 It is quite hard to decide what to read next often, too much choice.
        Thank you so much, by the way! 🙂 My blog has been a bit wobbly lately, with travelling, and just general business, but I plan on bringing back the focus to books and writing and putting more effort in to it because I do have some lovely followers, such as yourself! I was the same with your blog, I just read a little and knew I was going to follow it! Nice to find blogs like that sometimes 🙂

  3. Thanks for the fresh picks. I finished Pillars of the Earth a couple months ago and loved it. Been meaning to read the sequel. Nice to have some other options too.

    By the way, I hope you’re not “awarded” out, as I nominated you for one that I didn’t think you had. As always, no obligation, just think you’re awesome, is all. 🙂

  4. Great picks, I’ve added a few to my wish list – notably American Gods, since I’ve been wanting to read it for a while now

    I don’t have tons of books that I would say have impacted me. My favorite book is Lord of the Flies, which is one of the few books I have read more than once (I’ve read it at least a dozen times, maybe two dozen). Beyond that, there are many books that I enjoy and many books that have guided my tastes and discretions, not just for other books, but for life. If I had to list a few notable ones, The Hobbit, Fight Club, Shadow Divers (possibly the only non-fiction work to keep me absolutely riveted), Huck Finn, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the most recent one I’ve read being Slaughterhouse Five.

    1. I need to read Lord of the Flies – it’s in that pile of books that I think I ‘should’ read, as is Slaughterhouse Five.

      When you have the chance, definitely get onto American Gods. I don’t want to hype it up too much, but is a fantastic read.

      Thanks 🙂

  5. I just came from another blog doing a review of Neil Gaimon’s Stardust. They said his writing is quirky and whimsical. I must get something of his to read.
    The Point Horror books are my favourite books from childhood and I love Richie-Tankersley Cusick.
    I also enjoy Marian Keyes. Read her latest book, The Mystery of Mercy Close a few weeks ago. Watermelon made me laugh loads too. People pass some of her work off as fluff but I think it’s intelligent and witty chick lit.

    1. He really is worth reading, and you’ll find a novel of his more suited to you than others. I didn’t particularly enjoy his book ‘Neverwhere’ but have loved everything else of his I’ve read.
      Ah, Point Horror. I really need to find a second hand book shop that sells them all!
      I’ll add ‘The Mystery of Mercy Close’ to my ‘to-read’ list, because her stuff really is enjoyable, and she can construct characters well,.

  6. So many books you have listed are great on here and some I need to check out. For me the list is long but I will name a few, Kafka collection of short stories, Dicken’s Pickwick Papers, Jules Verne 20,000 leagues under the sea, just to name a few haha.

    1. I had to stop myself from just listing every favourite! Haha. I narrowed it down to the ones that have impacted me the most, otherwise it would be a lot longer :S
      I haven’t read Kafka’s short stories but if they’re anywhere near as good as The Metamorphosis I will have to check them out.

      1. I believe its called “The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka”, made me appreciate The Metamorphosis even more after reading a collection of his works.

  7. What fun! I love reading what others reccomend and why. Not to show off but because I have been here a long time and read a lot of books, I have read and loved every book you mention bar two. Soon to be bar none.
    Now 2 books I can think of off the top of my head.
    Mayhew Reilly. Ice Station. The character “Mother” makes me fantasize I am big and strong rather than teeny and tiny. LOL.
    Elizabeth Jolley. The newspaper of Claremont street. It is about human limpets.
    James Hardy. Washington Square. It is about love and other things.

    1. I must read some more Matthew Reily, I know he’s more of a fast fiction type, but I love that. I’ll have to check out Ice Station.
      And I’ll have to check out the other one you mention as well.
      My list of books to read is about 86 novels long at the moment, I’ve been reading non-stop for a month and I still doubt I’ll finish them all any time soon! haha, but I’m happy to add more.

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