My Life in Books
March 16, 2011 § 14 Comments
A friend of mine runs an eclectic blog over at blogspot. Being a friend of mine, naturally she is an avid reader, so she talks about books from time to time.
Another thing Ellie does is watch TV, and that is something I rarely seem to get around to doing. I therefore have not seen the BBC series ‘My Life in Books’, but the concept intrigues me. The point is to choose five books which say something about you. They’ve been doing this with celebrities, of course, and since I am not a celebrity I daresay my five books are a bit irrelevant to most people. I’m going to do it anyway though, because I’m fascinated by how much reading choices reveal about a person.
Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh was the first more-or-less ‘real’ book I read. I suppose I must have been about eight or so. This book is about a pair of children who, by various exciting means, are able to communicate with cats. They are mixed up in the challenges facing Carbonel, King of the Cat Kingdom, and his family: a white persian cat called Blandamour and, later, their children. Reading this book was probably the beginning of my taste for fantasy fiction.
Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce. I was about eleven when I borrowed this from the school library. I have remained a dedicated Tamora Pierce fan ever since. Alanna is a girl who changes places with her twin brother in order to go to Court to learn to be a knight. She’s a diminutive redhead with a fierce temper and the sort of unflinching determination most of us can only dream of. Tamora has written several collections of books set in the world of Tortall, and each one features some of the characters from the previous series. It’s an ingenious trick that’s kept me avidly reading them all, and I am still thrilled whenever any of my ‘old friends’ turn up again.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I first read this at the age of fourteen or so (this is turning into a history of my life in books, isn’t it?). I’m pretty sure that my interest in history started here. I’ve since read every Jane Austen novel about a thousand times each, and I have a well-tended library full of literature from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Speaking of which, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell is the fourth book on my list. This is one I discovered only when I was more or less adult, which is probably a good thing as it is much longer and more complex. It is one of the greatest, most wondrous and admirable pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. Ms. Gaskell’s ability to portray difficult, complicated characters is unparalleled in my reading. I love, love, love all of the people in this book – even the vacuous, selfish, stupid ones – and sometimes I wish I could stay tucked into its pages forever.
Finally, The Anvil of the World by Kage Baker. Ms. Baker is (or was) a science fiction writer normally, but she wrote a few fantasy books. This book has an unusual structure in that it is composed of three shorter, related narratives about the same central character, usually known only as ‘Smith’. Smith takes on a job as a caravan guard transporting artistic goods across country, and ends up fighting off assassins, sharing a hot tub with an attractive demon lady, starting up a hotel in a popular seaside resort, and incidentally saving the world. What I love most about it is Ms. Baker’s incomparable dry humour. It is one of those books I picked up cheap somewhere because I might as well, and now it is one of the brightest stars of my collection.
It was interesting but quite difficult picking those five. I’ll stop there, because if I allow myself to expand my allotment to ten or even more, I will be at this all week.
So, supposing you were on the run from the law and you had space in your luggage for five hastily-grabbed books, which would you choose?