Books & Writers

Twenty Books that Shaped Me

GE DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I saw the post “10 Books I Can’t Shake” on Ellie’s blog, and when I went to leave a comment with the books that have stuck with me, I realised this is something I would love to share; so I may as well make a blog post of it.

“[List] 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard-they don’t have to be the “right” or the “great” works, just ones that have touched you.”

I think I’ll probably pass 10, but we’ll see. Here’s my list of books/series that I feel shaped me:

1. Baby Elephant’s Bedtime, by Dick McCue

This was my bedtime story for a decade. Every family member knows it by heart, and my parents and I have our own version.

When baby Ellie gets ready for bed.. she starts by picking her nose…

2. The Immortal Series 1-4 by Tamora Pierce

This stayed with me for about a decade but I never knew where it was from/which books. After about three years of on/off remembering bits, I finally was able to google “baby dragon talks in a girl’s mind on a cliff” and got to this series, which I bought instantly on ebay and read in 3 weeks. This was probably my introduction to humans with some form of magical powers in books.

3. The Silverwing Trilogy (and then the prequel), by Kenneth Oppel

This was the series where I learned about death and I believe my spiritual roots in terms of nature and rebirth as spirit. It also taught me about family, as a father makes a sacrifice to save his son and son’s friend.

4. The Circle Trilogy, by Nora Roberts

This was my first Nora Robert’s trilogy, and it involved Ireland, a Celtic Goddess, Vampires, family bonds, a modern-day witch and magic. When I wrote my first ever novel, it ended up morphing into a very close rip-off of this series; and hence will never see light of day. But it basically allowed me to win NaNoWriMo when I had no inspiration, and that’s how I had the confidence to try writing.

5.  Troy and the Warrior Women Series, by Theresa Tomlinson

Strong women, dancing, a very mild sense of fantasy (we all have our own kind of magic powers), nature, love and loss. This was one of the first books where the character actually suffered real loss. Family, husband, child, siblings, tribe, home, freedom, language, magic…

6. The Secret Seven Series, by Enid Blyton

I had an imaginary dog called Scamper from the age of about 6. I can’t imagine why….

7. The Adventure series, by Willard Price

When I joined a new school at the age of 7, they didn’t believe my reading skills. So I had to read a shitty ‘yellow sticker’ book with only 30 pages about a bloody pink ballet shoe in a window. The teacher didn’t believe I’d read it, so asked me questions. I answered; completely terrified by this sudden limitation on my reading. Reading had always been encouraged; why couldn’t I go outside these crap books?

So I told her all about this book.

And then I was allowed in the whole of the library.

And I met Willard Price. I think the first one I read was Amazon Adventure. But this was my step to grown-up books, and likely my first taste of actual “here is another world” in books.

8. His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman

This series sparked my interest in totem animals and gave me a way to fight my fears of the dark and being alone.

9. The Old Kingdom Trilogy, by Garth Nix

This was again another glimpse at how death may work. I grew up very anxious and desperate to find comfort in believing in books. thus, books with myth and prophecy have always spoken to me. Prophecies and places where the laws of magic are adhered to give me a sense of comfort; because that provides predictability.

10. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, by Michelle Paver

Moving forward in my interest in totems came this series; another world, slightly with a foot in some sense of realism, but then a boy who is friends with a wolf; who understand each other because he was left in their den as a child. Here were more lessons in companionship, loyalty and family.

11. The Sight, by David Clement-Davies

This was a prophecy story, where wolves have their own religious beliefs and again, the book had deaths throughout it. But then their are cubs named after dead members of the pack, suggesting a new form of rebirth to add to my newly-forming spiritual understanding of life and death. And this was one of the first books where one of the actual main characters dies; which was a new concept for me.

12. The Loop, by Nicholas Evans

This introduced me to the idea that sometimes, humans want to hurt animals. Which was useful to know, even if I didn’t like it.

13. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

I’m slightly concerned that this list is full of books which really affected me because they were about death…

I wrote a full review of this one here, but essentially, it had a really strong voice and it’s not a book I’d ever have read if I’d known the topic. And then I’d have missed out this wonderful story.

14. The Body Sacred, by Dianne Sylvan

I probably re-read a couple of chapters of this book each year; when I’m struggling to keep my focus on myself. It’s my “no, you need time to really feed your body” book – I’m able to prioritise reading it over other things. It also taught me a lot as I went through my teens, and didn’t have a positive body / health role model to get advice from.

15. City Dharma, by Arthur Jeon 

As an anxious, depressed teenager with anger issues, this was probably one of the best books for me to discover when I left for University. It was practical yet had spiritual aspects, and had a friendly tone.

16. Simple Wicca, by Michele Morgan

Although I’m not Wiccan, this is a lovely book with ideas for celebrating the seasons, and has some beautiful descriptive passages.

17. The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield

I made friends with a girl at University basically over this book. One part that stayed with me is about a woman and her five-year-old daughter, who she actually talks to. I grew up with “don’t be silly” for things I said; even when I was confused or upset- and not “being silly.” So for me, that quote told me there was another way and that adults just didn’t know how to talk to me.

“We should always find a way to tell a child the truth.”

18. Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse, by Ursula Moray Williams

My grandmother introduced me to these books, and they’re almost my only memory of reading with family other than my mum.

19. Animal Ark Series, by Lucy Daniels

I think I own over 150 of them, including the little spin-offs. This made me want to be a vet, propelled my love of animals and I expect added to my sense of kindness towards animals.

20. Tarka the Otter, by Henry Williamson

I borrowed this book from the library, and although I was on page 88 and had to give it back the next day; instead of renewing it, my mum said she’d just buy me a copy. Which then made me want to finish it quickly; but also made me not read any more, because it wasn’t a discussion. It felt like if I read it now, then it would be a waste of money to then buy it. As no discussion was had, I didn’t feel able to begin one about it, at that age.

I’ve never read any more of it, yet remember the pond he’s in at pages 70-88 clearly in my mind. And yes, the copy my mum bought is still on my bookshelf. Unread.

I’m not quite sure what it says about me, but I can’t get rid of that book. And 50% of me wants to finish reading it.

What about you? Are there any books which have stayed with you over the years?

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