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A list inspired by Ireland, iPods and some earnest dawdling

9 Aug

I thought I would finish the week off with a bit of a list. Also I have essays to start writing and I feel some procrastination coming on.

A few years ago, I was traveling about Ireland. There was some discussion about a format for an iPod playlist. The idea was that you should pick six songs to represent you at certain points in your like. One for your birth, another for your childhood, one for love, one for death, and actually I can’t remember the other two. But I thought I would make my own version but with books. So here goes.

A book from my childhood – Heidi by Johanna Spyri

My Nanna used to read this to me when I was little and I loved it. I still have it on my book shelf I think, or maybe my mum has it. So many of the kids books I read, or were read to me, were written by men (think Brothers Grimm, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll) and I like that this wasn’t. And the story is great – a girl who gets to roam about the countryside, getting up to all kinds of fun and mischief with her friends Peter and Clara.

The biggest book I’ve read – The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Not sure if this was meant to be a kids book but I read it when I was thirteen – it was the first book that really challenged me as a reader and also my ability to concentrate on something for longer than it took the Babysitters Club to sort out a mystery and be over at someone’s house before they had to go out to dinner. The Power of One is an awesome book as a teenager – it introduces all these ideas to you that you were sheltered from when you were younger. I remember I read the sequel, Tandia, in a full day’s marathon read.

The book that I have reread the most – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

This was a very tough call. I can merrily reread books over and over and over again, put them down, have a hot milo, and read them again. But this one came travelling with me through the US, Europe, a couple of years living in London and so on. I’ve gone past it just being entertaining and now I enjoy its familiarity, its comfort, humour and humanity. I’m always impressed by the amount of research that must have gone into this and the number of real people’s stories that are threaded into it. I could never recommend it enough and I was pleased to see it made it to number 38 on the Top 100 by the BBC.

Best book recommendation – The Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Kinda funny story. I had never read science fiction before (nor had any inclination to do so) and one night I was staying over at my friend’s house. In the middle of the night, her cupboard door closed all on its own – we freaked out! Her older brother (who might have been a bit drunk) gave us each one of his books and said “this is the bible”. Well, I didn’t know about that but I opened it up halfway through and started reading and kind of enjoyed it. It was Shadow of a Dark Queen, I think that’s the seventh in the series. So after I borrowed Shadow, I went and read the first one – The Magician. If you need to get about as far away from reality as possible, this isn’t a bad book to start with – although the further you go, the closer you get.

Shortest book – Gigi by Colette

The story of a girl groomed by her Aunt to be a prostitute in Paris. I know, but it is charming, and gentle and dark and disturbing. And the movie’s not bad either. (Did you know this is the only movie in history to win more awards than it was nominated for at the Oscars? It won all the nominated awards plus Maurice Chevalier won the lifetime achievement award) Thank heavens…

Hmm, one more.

The book with the character you love to hate – The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Ah Michael Corleone. And Vito and Sonny. And Tom and Jonny for that matter too. And that doctor guy who’s name escapes me. This book won out over others because it just had so many of them! And it really gets to you; I found myself constantly thinking about respect and so on when I read it. I love the idea of a character you love even though they are awful or mean or just an all-round bad guy. I have read it so often the spine is broken and the middle pages fall out (clearly I have to buy a second copy). And if that isn’t proof of its readability, my boyfriend (who does not read novels) read it. And he liked it.

I hope you like my list – maybe it tells you something about me (and maybe it doesn’t!) – and maybe you want to start your own list. Maybe you also have an essay to start… Ovid, anyone?

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