Friday, 5 September 2014

10 Books That Have Stayed With Me...

I've been nominated on Facebook to come up with a list of 10 books that have stayed with me for some reason. My interpretation of this is that it's a bit different to a 'favourite books list'. There's some great books that I've loved, but don't really stay with me. To get on to this list, it must have had a big effect on me and not been forgotten. There's a wide variety of genres on this list, both fiction and non-fiction, reflecting my broad reading tastes.
  1. 'Sarum' by Edward Rutherford. This is a giant of an historical fiction novel, weighing in at over 1,000 pages. It can be loosely described as the story of England from the end of the last ice age to the early part of the 20th century, quite a long time span! It follows the fortunes of several families through the ages. It is an episodic book, and there can be long gaps in time between each episode, but through the fortunes of the families in the book they all link together quite nicely. This is a book that really has stayed with me, and I've often talked about and recommended to people.
  2. 'A Time of Gifts' by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Travel book. In the early 1930s the author, aged 18, decided to walk from Rotterdam to Constantinople (now Istanbul). This is his account of the first part of his journey. A lot of the book chronicles his journey across pre WW2 Germany, a lost world of sleepy villages, dark castles and a way of life stretching back hundreds of years. This world was wiped out forever by the World War 2. A Time of Gifts is widely considered one of the best travel books ever written in the English language.
  3. 'Cold Mountain' by Charles Frazier. Set during the American Civil War, it features Ada, a young woman struggling make a living from her small farmstead, and Inman a war veteran journeying back home to her. Simply one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read, really makes me feel like I'm there.
  4. 'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline. Ostensibly science fiction, simply because it is set 50 years in the future, it is basically one huge nostalgia-fest for the 1980s, which I caught the tail end of growing up (I was born in 1980). Really fun book.
  5. 'Remains of the Day' by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is the best book where nothing happens that I've ever read. It is about an aging butler reflecting on his life. It sounds dull, but is utterly captivating and feels so real. I've only read this recently, but I think it will stay with me for a long time.
  6. 'On Writing' by Stephen King. Part memoir, part advice for wannabe writers. It cuts through the cr*p like no other book of its type I've ever come across. Through numerous clear outs and book purges it has remained firmly on my shelves for over a decade.
  7. 'Small Island' by Andrea Levy. An incredible novel set several years after the end of World War 2, about Jamaican immigrants to Britain and the struggles they faced. I was born more than 30 years after this was set, and until I read this I truly had no idea of the racial prejudice in this country in the post-war years, and what it must have been like for those immigrants, but this book showed me. Truly eye opening, and a great, fascinating novel.
  8. 'Cider with Rosie' by Laurie Lee. Memoir of growing up in a Cotswolds village. Very famous book which has been on many a school curriculum however I've only recently read it and loved it. Really takes you back to the dying embers of a bygone era.
  9. 'Jennifer Government' by Max Barry. This book might not make it into my list of absolute favourites, but it is a novel stuffed full of ideas that really make you think. It is set in a future where corporations are far more powerful than governments and employees surnames are named after the companies they work for. It's a book in the same vein as 1984 and Brave New World, but easier to read and more fun!
  10. 'Magician' by Raymond E. Feist. I read a lot of fantasy books as a teenager, but this was by far my favourite. Despite being 800 pages, I must have read it at least half a dozen times before I was 20 and thought about it a lot since. So as much as any books on this list, Magician has stayed with me.
So there it is, 10 books that have stayed with me. A mix of different genres, they won't all be everyone's cup of tea, but then it's my list... As part of this nomination thing, I'll be nominating 10 people myself to come up with their own list over on Facebook...