Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My favourite books

I have a lot of favourite books, but nothing I've read as an adult has stayed with me and become a part of me the way the books I read as a child and a teenager did. And I'm still discovering new, and new-to-me, favourites in the children's section of the library, in second-hand book sales, and on other people's bookshelves.

When I moved to America I took just a few books with me. Over the years, I've slowly been migrating my childhood bookshelf here, a few volumes at a time, stuffed into an overfull suitcase. In theory, it's for my kids to profit from, but mostly it's because I like having my books around me, and I still read them.

Bookshelf containing books listed below
Bonus recorder-storage space

So, what's on my bookshelf? This is how it looks, in rough order of age suitability:

Winnie the Pooh (two volumes of stories, plus three of poetry)
Charlotte's Web
Narnia (seven books)
Antonia Forrest - Autumn Term, End of Term, Attic Term, Cricket Term 
LM Montgomery (the Emily books, which I only discovered recently; all my Anne books are in Ireland still but will definitely be next)
Noel Streatfield - Ballet Shoes, White Boots, The Painted Garden
Tolkien - The Hobbit

Young Adults
Alan Garner - Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Owl Service, Red Shift
KM Peyton - the Flambards series and the Pennington books (four books each)
Rumer Godden - The Greengage Summer and The Peacock Spring (which are not a series, though they sound as if they should be) and The Doll's House, a really perfect story for younger readers

And these are some of the children's/YA fiction I've discovered and loved as an adult:

JK Rowling - Harry Potter (seven books, as everyone knows)
Susan Cooper - Over Sea Under Stone (four books)
Rick Riordan - the two Percy Jackson series; I haven't read the Egyptian ones yet
Phillip Pullman - His Dark Materials (three books)
Ursula LeGuin - the Earthsea quartet

You'll notice, if you know some of those titles, that in reading I often lean towards the fantasy side of things. I love time travel, different worlds, realistic magic. The Lilac books, I'll tell you straight up, are not fantasy (though the next books I'm planning will have something of that element going on). Lilac owes more to my love of detailed realism and fiction that's strongly rooted in its moment in time, like Montgomery, Streatfield, Godden, and Forrest - though I hesitate to list myself in the company of such exalted names.

My aim in writing, first and foremost, has always been to create a world that the reader feels drawn into, and a story that flows naturally. Reading a good book should never be a slog - it should be a trip into another time and place, so that you can feel the rough walls and the rain and see the glimmer of the sun on the waves. If I can make you forget that you're reading, then I think I'm doing something right.

Bookshelf containing further titles listed above
Rowling, LeGuin, Cooper, Pullman


  1. Lovely. I also discovered Emily as an adult, after having been an Anne devotee since childhood. I read the series once. I should reread it.

  2. I've been doing the same with what is left of my childhood book collection, bringing it from Ireland to Germany.