The past week saw World Book Day come and go. I don’t remember such a day existing when I was young (it probably did, but from the age of 12 I went to a school where dressing up as a literary character was a concept that belonged in the ‘fun bin’ along with Children in Need, Red Nose Day, ‘Wear a Crazy Tie for Charity’ events…) but seeing so many kids celebrate their imaginary heroes brought back fond memories all the same.
I remember each of us being given a book catalogue once or twice a year at school, and everyone was given the chance to order something. The most exciting day was when said books arrived; we’d trail into class, spot the book box on the desk and become dizzy with excitement at our new books. A world of adventure, happiness, drama and suspense awaited! I was addicted to The Saddle Club and, as I got older, Heartland – and the new book feeling has never left me all these years later.
Tonight I thought I’d share some of my favourites. They’re in no particular order, but I love reading other peoples recommendations and am always on the look out for a new book; I’d love to hear if anyone out there has any particular favourites.
- The Goldfinch
I’ve probably read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 10 times now, it has to be one of my all time favourites. From the beginning it’s gripping, and I find Theo a fascinating and very sad character. I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the last 100 pages or so, but the rest of the book makes up for it.
- Harry Potter
I know. How boring. But if ever I’m in need of comfort and easy reading then I return to this ol’ faithful; I always seem to find something new every time I read the series. Fun fact – I’ve never watched the films. I did try once, but the characters and sets have their own look in my imagination and I don’t like it being ruined by how they are portrayed in the movies!
- The Snow Child
When I first read the blurb I thought ‘This sounds ridiculous.’ But actually, The Snow Child contains the most beautiful writing – I like a book which sends my head wild with pictures, and this one certainly does that. It’s haunting and mystifying and another that I can re-read a thousand times and always find myself enthralled.
Classics aren’t really my favourite, but I studied Emma by Jane Austen at school and have always had a special place in my heart for the strong willed heroine. It’s the only Austen book that I could ever stomach, and personally I find it the most readable (and relatable!). One of my favourite movies of all time is the film adaption with Gwyneth Paltrow – would definitely recommend as an alternative romcom!
- The Great Gatsby
Ok so I know I said I didn’t like classics, but Gatsby is another school favourite that I’ve carried with me into adulthood. I always found it dark and intriguing and I got a lot from all the symbolism (again, never seen any of the movie adaptions, I don’t like anyone messing with the Daisy and Gatsby in my head!)
- Kate’s Story
Kate’s Story (and the books which follow it, starting with Our Kid) tell the part-biographical tale of a family in Manchester in 1900. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and it opens your eyes to a fascinating period of history told from the viewpoint of a poor family trying to make ends meet. I first read these books as an early teenager and still get great enjoyment from them now – easy reading but really interesting.
- The Shock of the Fall
I’ve read quite a few books about mental illness and this one is by far by favourite. The character of Matthew, who is tormented by grief and love and suffering from poor mental health, is one of those characters you just can’t get out of your head. It’s so raw and readable.
- All Creatures Great and Small
Every book written by James Herriot is firmly cemented in my heart as an absolute favourite. Each book is set in Yorkshire in the 20’s/30’s and tells of life in a country vet practice. They are so harmless and gentle yet often very very funny (and sometimes sad) and I always find myself thanking my lucky starts that I live in the country after reading them as it sounds so lovely! If you like gentle comedy and don’t mind animal tales I would thoroughly recommend, they are lovely stories from a simpler time.
On that farming-orientated note I shall leave you with some pictures of our wonderful sunset tonight. It fills my heart with joy when the nights start getting lighter, and the loch is so still you could mistake it for a mirror.