So someone posted a chain thing on Facebook listing 10 books that have touched/stayed with you. I’m not quite inclined to do it on Facebook right now so I thought I would post it on here instead. My list is in no particular order, not saying book no. 1 touched me more than book no. 7, more that I just recalled them in this order as I was writing them down.
1. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is perhaps my all time favourite book and my all time favourite book character. I first fell in love with the story of Sara Crewe as a 7 year old who was still grieving the loss of her mother. Sara is also a motherless child, and the story of how she handles hardship with courage, strength, love, and hope, is inspiring even to my adult self. I’ve re-read this books enough times to know much of it by heart, although I continue to find lessons each time.
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This comes as much from the particular copy I own as the story contained within it. When I was about 11 I inherited an old hardback edition which had been my mother’s as a child. Inside the cover was my mum’s childish scrawl, and the fact that we still had the copy was testimony to her enjoyment of the book. So to hold the same story within my hands and enjoy it felt very much like I was with my mum. That being said, the story was also beautiful and inspiring.
3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This makes the list because it deals with a topic very close to my heart, young people’s mental health. I read this at a time in my life where I had thoughts of self harm and suicide. This story delivers shock value in a very innovative and interesting way. It looks at suicide not in the eyes of the troubled person before the act, but the people left behind afterwards. And beyond that. It doesn’t look at the effect on the parents or friends, but instead focuses on a trail of answers, on the little things we have become so numb to that we don’t realise the detrimental effect we have on other people’s lives. Jay Asher delivers the blame in such a real way, with the idea that what we might see as harmless (as ‘banter’ as we call it in the UK) might be the reason for such dark events.
4. Angels Unlimited series by Annie Dalton. Another book love from little 7 year old me. Although rather childish and not the most impressively written books (now out of print), these touched me at a time I needed it most. The books deal with what happens after someone dies. They become Angels, and then they get sent as ‘agents’ back to Earth to protect humans that need them. As a child I always wanted to believe that my mum wasn’t just gone, that she was still somewhere and she was good. So this provided child me with an image of her as a protecting Angel watching over me and anyone else heaven sent her to.
5. Slated trilogy by Teri Terry. I only read is book as it was nominated for our local book awards which I used to be a reviewer for. The story set over three books is interesting, and shocking. It’s dystopian but set not too far in the future or in a universe that wildly different from current reality (it set in Britain 2064). What is most interesting and shocking is that all the ideas and technology in it are real, the plot of the book is entirely possible. To me I was drawn in by the realisation that if certain conditions transpired this could actually be our very real future.
6. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. Another kids book. Maybe I’m only recalling it because the plot is amazingly similar to the origin story of one Oliver Queen in the hit show Arrow, but I do remember being quite in love with it’s story of love and survival back when I read it aged 8.
7. Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings. This book is listed mostly because I love how it’s supernatural elements were written in. Supernatural things are my favourite genre to work with, and this book was major inspiration for how to write supernatural stories of my own (including the piece that got me a distinction at performing arts school.
8. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. A really good fiction book on racism and extremism, and what happens if we perpetuate hate within society. Noughts and Crosses reverses the story of racism by placing black people as the elite majority in power, with white people relegated to the role of second class citizens. What’s so eye opening about it is that Malorie Blackman used the same rhetoric from history (like civil rights America in the 20th century), but turns it the other way round. Only the narrow minded would fail to be affected by seeing the discrimination and hatred that ethnic minorities really experience turned around onto characters that could easily be their children or friends or even themselves.
9. Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Alice Sebold makes my list twice, primarily because of how shocking and yet real her stories are. I only read the book after watching the film where the murder victim Susie Salmon is played by Saoirse Ronan. If the film was creepy and horrorfying, the book is worse. The book version carries less of the hope and happy ending of the film.
10. Lucky by Alice Sebold. The second Alice Sebold book is actually her memoir. It details her journey through the events, trauma, and consequences of sexual assault. Prior to finding this in our local BookCycle, I hadn’t known much about the author despite reading her other fiction books. I’ve since seen this book recommended in some places for other people suffering from the trauma of sexual assault, and my own trauma was in part why I was drawn to read it myself. While I cannot say for definite how, or even if, this book helped my own journey of recovery, I can say that valued the honesty. To bare such a dark and vulnerable and raw part of your soul for the world to see takes much bravery, and for that I commend Alice Sebold. She doesn’t shy away from the harsh truths that those living with trauma are all too familiar with. She doesn’t doesn’t try to paint them with fake hope or tell readers that every was going to be okay. She explained that shit happens, and people process it differently, and it’s okay to not be okay even years down the line.
… So that is my list of 10 books which have stayed with me. There are many more, but these are the 10 I recalled when thinking about it this time. My reasons are personal and no bearing on the books or authors themselves.
Keep reading people, it’s good for the soul. If you want to do this also then feel free.