Friday, 7 March 2014

Books That Changed My Life

I'm always fascinated by other people's book collections. Whenever I visit people I always have a look at what they've been reading, or what books they own. I think what you read says a lot about you as a person. Some of my favourite posts to read are peeks into other people's bookshelves. I'm sort of doing the same today, but only with a few of my favourites. There's been a few of these posts circulating around at the moment, and I thought it would be interesting for me to take a trip down memory lane and list five books that changed my life. None of these books changed my life in a dramatic way. They didn't alter the way I think, they didn't change what I wanted to do with my life, not really.But they all did have an impact on me, regardless of how small. And sometimes little things make a big difference.



The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The first novel on my list is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis, and in particular, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Everybody has a childhood book that they will treasure forever. For my mum, it is Polly of Primrose Hill by Kathleen O'Farrell, and for my sister it is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. For me, it is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I discovered Narnia even before I discovered Wonderland. It was the first book I read that truly captured my interest and my imagination, and without it, I doubt that I would be reading fantasy today. I was first in line when the film adaptation was released, and I still pick it up when I'm feeling sad for some childhood comfort. I think I will always enjoy Narnia. I'm going to end this paragraph with a quote from C.S Lewis that I think is very apt.

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”

The Lord of the Rings

As a fantasy reader, there was absolutely no way that Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings could not make this list, and I doubt anybody will be surprised that this has been included! I was actually quite old when I discovered Tolkien. My Dad convinced me to read The Fellowship of the Ring when I was eleven as he'd read both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Fellowship of the Ring was one of the first books that I can remember picking up and refusing to put down. I can distinctly remember trying to read it at night and my mum wandering into my room and telling me to switch off my light (they eventually caught on and bought me a book light). Everything about The Lord of the Rings fascinated me. The language, the sheer scale of the plot and the imagination involved were just beyond anything that I'd read previously. I still read the trilogy at least once a year, and I wrote a piece of comparative coursework using LotR and Beowulf for my A-Level in English Literature when I was 18.

Lord of the Flies

Next is the book that I studied for my GCSE English Literature. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. The first real 'classic' that I read was actually Great Expectations by Dickens, but I think I was a lot more interested by Golding, which I suppose is quite unusual. I was torn between choosing Lord of the Flies for this slot or 1984. I decided on Golding because Lord of the Flies led me to both 1984 and Animal Farm. It's one of the most haunting and striking books I've ever read. I've never met anybody who has read Lord of the Flies and simply forgotten about it afterwards. It's the kind of book that you never truly put down. It's a fascinating study of human nature and there's a lot of truth in it too, even if that truth is a little unnerving.

The Bloody Chamber

I first encountered Angela Carter's collection of short stories titled The Bloody Chamber when I was studying for my A-Level in English Literature. Reading The Bloody Chamber for the first time was like pieces of a jigsaw slotting into place. It was like I was finally reading what I had been searching for throughout my life as an avid reader. It is everything that I love about writing. It's elegant, it's clever, beautiful but grotesque, and simply wonderful. It has an almost hypnotic quality to it. One girl in my class was so appalled by Carter that she refused to study The Bloody Chamber completely. Perhaps you either hate or love her, and I certainly fall in the latter category. Reading this made me want to start writing. Not professionally, but for myself. I read the entire thing in one hour. I own several of her other works, but The Bloody Chamber is still my favourite. My favourite stories in this collection are The Bloody Chamber, The Erl-King and The Lady of the House of Love. They are perfect for a quick read on a dark, lazy Sunday afternoon.

Measure for Measure

I couldn't quite decide if plays were supposed to be included in these lists, but since Shakespeare has had a huge influence on me on my studies, and I thought it would be impossible for at least one of his plays not to make my list. The first Shakespeare play I encountered was Romeo and Juliet when I was at school. I studied Much Ado About Nothing for my SATs, Romeo and Juliet again for my GCSEs (my school did not encourage variety) and Othello at A-Level. I've taken theatre modules in every year of my studies at university, and I didn't encounter Measure for Measure until my second year, and I have now written an essay and a dissertation chapter on it. There's something particularly captivating about Measure for Measure as Shakespeare's first Jacobean play. It's an incredibly intriguing study of government, power and immorality and it quickly became my favourite play. I discover something new and interesting every single time I pick it up.

I'd love to know what books would make your list and why! If you've written a similar post to this, please send me a link! I love seeing what other people enjoy reading! I'd also like some feedback on whether or not you enjoy this kind of post?


11 comments:

  1. I do it too, looking at other people's books when I'm visiting :D And I also always try to find books we have in common (or they have in common with other people I visited:D) :D
    From what you have picked, I totally LOVE Lord of the Rings, I've read also Lord of Flies (and I remember I liked it :D), I sadly confess I have never read anything about Narnia (but I want to get a boxset...one day:D) and I don't even know the last two ones, but as for the 4th. - horror short stories? count me in! :D and for the 5th - I like Shakespeare, and while it's mostly because of his humor and dirty-ish puns in his comedies, I would like to give this one a go :D

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    1. You would love The Bloody Chamber! I think a lot of people would find it quite odd that Measure for Measure is my favourite Shakespeare play! It's a dark comedy, which is probably why I like it.

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  2. You've completely convinced me to read The Bloody Chamber. It already seems so interesting!

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    1. Let me know what you think if you do read it! It's a fascinating collection. I'm always trying to convince people to read it!

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  3. LOTR and the Narnia books are so amazing! My Dad introduced me to both of them, so I'm forever grateful. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Dickens's Great Expectations, and Wicked by Gregory Maguire are the other additions to my list! If I could have space for an extra though.. I loved Shakespeare's Othello! x

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    1. I think my grandparents introduced me to Narnia, but my Dad introduced me to LOTR too. I love Great Expectations, it's my favourite Dickens novel. I saw a beautiful leatherbound edition of it in Waterstones last week that I was so tempted to buy!

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  4. Super post, and some excellent books. I love Angela Carter and LOTR, though I have to whisper that I just can't get away with Dickens *hangs head in shame*. I read and read the Narnian books over and over as a child, and still have my battered and bruised set which have undergone more house moves than can possibly be good for them! I hope you don't mind, but I have used your post as the inspiration for my most recent post, looking at 6 books that shaped my reading up until the age of 21.

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    1. To be honest I've not made much an effort in regards to Dickens, aside from Great Expectations. We just haven't crossed paths that much and so I've only read Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. I might make it my aim during the summer to read a few more! I've had my Narnia set for about fifteen years now. It's a hardback edition and one of my most treasured possessions!

      I absolutely do not mind! I love seeing what books other people value and I've made a note to read your blog post when I get home from university tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing what books you've chosen!

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  5. Well I've just added a few books to my to-read list. C.S.Lewis was a massive influence in my reading as well, as was Tolkein. I will definitley be checking out some of the others on here :)

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    1. Let me know which ones you look at! I'm always curious about what other people think about books I've read. I think I will always love C.S Lewis and Tolkien. I don't think I'd be studying literature as an adult if I hadn't come across Narnia and LOTR as a child.

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