I first saw this post at Suldog's and the at Lime's, so I pinched it and had great fun thinking and thinning down the books. It was very hard to do this task! I still have all of these books. I find it more difficult to part with books, read or unread, than I do loved clothing.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - first read to me by my Mum. Then when I could I read it to myself, I did over and over. I loved the magic of it. I escaped into the role. I have several copies including what l believe is a first edition. I am named after the central character.
Now we are six by AA Milne/When we were very young by AA Milne - I cannot tell you how many times I have read these, or how many copies I have. Read by my Mum and by me to my babies. I know them off by heart. Some with added tunes. The childrens' Prayer. Bliss. I wrap myself up in these when I feel down and fearful.
My First Big French Dictionary (out of print) - I spent hours pouring over this book, learning vocabulary, loving the illustrations and conquering new magical sounding words. I still have this though it is rather damaged.
Shindlers Ark by Thomas Keneally - I read this when it was published, recommended by Mum and I was blown away by the quality of the writing and of course the 'story' heart wrenching and heartwarming and horrendous.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle - one of several books I read and reread to my children. We have so many favourites this one will do to represent them all.
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger- I was thirteen, on holiday in Cannes. I walked by myself to the bookshop every few day to buy a new book. This blew me away. At that time it didn't depress me, but in retrospect it could have been crushing as I was very impressionable. Thankfully it wasn't.
A Widow for One year by John Irving- Only because I can only choose one of this author. I Love the 'voice' of the man. It is so seductive in the reading. Some threads unbelievable. But he makes you really believe in the characters. You really care. The author really loves his craft. You know it. You heart beats faster and you hold your breath. His imagination is incredible and yet you still want more after the final page is turned.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- I found an old battered copy in a charity shop and read it in one sitting. Books that make me sigh out loud and engage with some feeling of understanding or relating to the subject can be saddening but also very rewarding. Love it. Love her! Poor poor thing.
Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn - I read this in my twenties, it was heavy going, but so well written, but I have not yet ventured to read any other of his books.
Atonement by Ian McEwan - read on publication, the book brings more detail and angst than the film could only imply. Though the adaptaion for the screen was very true to the book and captured the age, the atmosphere and told the story beautifully and accurately. Loved both.
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx- My introduction to Ms Proulx. A quirky book that stays with me. Her beautiful prose, rushes back and forth like the Newfoundland sea upon the shore. I can still 'hear' her imaginative phrases and metaphors from the book.
Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill - layered stories recount the ancestral histories of a young mixed race couple, whilst in they try and save their daughter from a life or death situation. The stories are remarkable, they overwhelm the present day tale in their breath and range.
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - a memoir about losing it, recovery and hope (the sequel My Friend Leonard is fab too). Unusual prose. Stunning. Don't care if n half truths. It is compelling.
Lucky by Alice Sebold - autobiographical account of the authors rape during her college years and her ensuing journey. Brave, brave woman. (The Lovely Bones Sebold's first novel is a favourite too)
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen - a story for all times about social morays & manners, works in the here and now too.
How hard would it be to pick one!?