Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book Meme from the Escapist Reader

Here it is finally, the book meme that I invited a tag for from Planet Nomad. I’ve made up my mind, but mostly couldn’t just keep down to one book per category, so was greedy and settled for more.

1.One book that changed your life
This one was a hard one. I couldn’t remember any seminal moments related to books when I was young, though I was always reading and usually immersed in whatever fictional world and character I was visiting. In the end I settled for Journey of Souls by Michael Newton, because though it didn’t really change my life, it helped me along the path I was starting to tread. An account by a hypnotherapist, who treating patients by past life regression, found that they could reach in-between-life memories of soul life – fascinating and thought provoking.

2.One book that you’ve read more than once
I re-read all books that I enjoy and favourites over and over again for years, which does make libraries frustrating, if you find a book you enjoy it’s hard giving it back to them. Most recently I loved The Time Traveller’s Wife and managed to read it twice before having to give it back to the friend who lent it. I loved the complexities of the plot and the way it explored the nitty gritty implications of unexpected time travel in today’s society, making it seem like a real medical possibility. All the Georgette Heyers (though not her whodunnits) are our stand-by for stressful times, particularly A Civil Contract, The Grand Sophy, Venetia all with brilliant dialogue, lively wit and clear-sighted strong heroines, as well as accurate historical detail.

3.One book that you would want on a desert island
I like the idea of the Complete Works of Shakespeare too, as I still don’t know all the plays and could have a fine time spotting quotes, but I think I would end up settling for a survival guide that tells you how to make a tent out of coconut shells, fish with palm leaves and light a fire with a conch shell.

4.One book that made you laugh
Astrerix and Obelix books still amuse me and now my son howls over them too. I love the names - Fulliautomatix, Getafix, Cacofonix and the whole gamut of crazy Romans – Raucus Hallellujachorus, Obsequus, Dubius Status et al.

5.One book that made you cry
The Heaven Tree trilogy by Edith Pargeter. Beautifully written series about a brilliant wood carver, in medieval England – the moral dilemmas caused by love, loyalty and honour. Does it have to be just one? I also wanted to put in Love of Seven Dolls by Paul Gallico – again an exquisitely crafted story, exploring the light and dark sides of human nature and how interwoven they are, in an engaging story about a young woman and her relationship with a puppet show that brings love into her life.

6. One book that you wish had been written
I love reading about everyday life long ago, the details, what did they eat how did they cook it, did they have toilet paper and what did they do about their periods. So it would be The Five Year Diary of a Girl in Ancient Rome or Greece.

7.One book that you wish had never been written
Beware the Story Book Wolves. When my son was three I got this for him, thinking a light-hearted story in which the story book wolves were made to look silly and ran off with their tails between their legs, might help him deal with his fear of wolves...WRONG! ever since he has had nightmares about one particular illustration of these cartoon wolves with bared teeth in a dark black page. I have since read that it is bad psychology to try to diminish or belittle the objects of fear, but I didn’t know that then. We gave away the book but that image is still in his head and still bothers him.

8.The book that you are currently reading
I have a couple on the go. One Georgette Heyer - Friday's Child for relaxation and enjoyment and winding down at bedtime. One library book – I go with the children to the library every few weeks and while they are rifling the children’s section I whizz round, grab anything remotely attractive from the shelves, in a random ‘what will the universe be telling me next’ way, then I see what I’ve got when I get home. Only occasionally is it unreadable, sometimes it does resonate with a message from on high and sometimes it doesn’t. The current one is seeds of doubt by James Ryan. The first part set in Ireland and exploring how imposed silence over a traumatic event of childhood, makes it impossible to escape and move on from it even forty years on..I’m not sure where it is going with the next bit which seems completely unrelated, but we’ll see. Probably not one I’ll read again but interesting enough.

9.One book that you have been meaning to read
I’m always meaning to read the classics from A-Z, but don’t currently have any spare intellectual capacity. Though when I occasionally get down a black-spined Penguin classic from the shelf I am usually surprised to find how readable it is – perhaps the black spines are too intimidating, or maybe it is a reluctance left over from ‘Literature’ at school.

10. Books that you don’t enjoy
Anything badly written. The Celestine Prophecy was so hyped by our friends, wonderful, life-changing message, but it was so badly written and irritating that I couldn’t get beyond the first chapter, life-changing message or not. The Da Vinci Code was a bit better – I made it to the end, but the plot was so thin and contrived and the ‘revelations’ I’d read already, twenty years ago in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail..... but it was quite nice to read them all again. And Mills and Boon – I’d need to be on a desert island without even the survival manual to read before I’d be tempted to enter their pages again (OK, I confess, it was when we were doing O’levels, as a relaxing alternative to revising, that I last lapsed into one!)

11. Book that you remember as a real page turner
Recently I read The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davies. Her whodunnit series set in Ancient Rome, with a private eye type hero, took a bit of getting used to (I couldn’t get my head around the modern style and language combined with ancient setting) but now I love them and the characters are great – all tongue in cheek but properly fleshed out, plus it is a long series with constant development of the relationship of the main characters, so if you start in the middle as we did you have to go back and find out how they met. This was the first book, so I did..

12. Non-fiction books that you have enjoyed
Food books. Especially Nigella Lawson How to Eat and Feast – all her books combine good, approachable food and entertaining writing, knowledgeable but friendly, you could have her round for dinner without being intimidated, sure she’d muck in and help.

13. Children’s books your family has loved
Inevitable the Narnia series. I found them too scary aged seven and gobbled them all up in three days when I was given them for Christmas aged eleven. My son though has been having them read to him since he was three and loves them, the girls are only just getting into them a bit now, having seen the movie (scary bits fast forwarded past). The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper is another brilliant children’s set. The Light and the Dark are at work here too, the children helping the Light win through. Magic in everyday England.

Who hasn’t been tagged for this yet? Meredith? Jenny? Nicolle? Your turn if you’d like to.


  1. I'll do this, but it may take me awile!

  2. I cannot wait to order these on Amazon! Thanks for the book descriptions, half of them i never heard of before.

  3. I'm only just catching up on my blogging friends so sorry this response is late.
    I love Asterix and Obelix still! Now my kids love them, too. We read them in French now, and I'm always incredibly proud if I can figure out the pun in the name.
    I enjoyed Time Traveler's Wife a lot too, but it was so sad. You're right, though; it did get more credible.
    You've mentioned some others I'd love to check out! This meme is so great because it gives us all new reading ideas.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!