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15 books that shook my world

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!?


  1. Love this idea, your comments on each of the books are interesting as well. I remember working in a bookshop when a few of these were published and read some, wondered about others.

    Mind if I pinch this idea too...?

  2. Love this idea. I shall pursue as well as soon as I get a minute to peruse my book shelves.

  3. Fab selection, a few that I have myself and others I have not heard of. I had forgotten about The Bell Curve, I must get round to reading it one day.

    Thanks Saz

  4. Ohh that's soo hard, i agree the bell jar is one of my fave's too. I love all your childhood bokks you have chosen! Not keen on Lucky though and i know i'm supposed to love the catcher in the rye but it just didn't set me on fire like it was supposed to.

  5. Oh dear! I couldn't even narrow the list to fifteen! You have mentioned some of my favorites~Great idea....but oh so hard!!

  6. My God! After a very long lifetime of reading I would not know where to start. Fascinating idea though and I shall put it on the back burner and have a think. A Little I loved that book as a child. So many of yours were my best loved too.

  7. I loved this post, Saz, and shall probably borrow it on my return from hols...

    I continue to be very fearful about where my back problem is leading me - I am getting a pain in my right leg just like it was when it all went pear-shaped...

    I have yet to go to the doc's... I think I need to read some of your beloved childhood books, to feel less fearful... And I continue to visit my uncle in hosp, unlikely to get out... Life is sunny outside, but dark and moist within...

    Love to you, my pet! Fhi xxx

  8. LOVE THIS!!! May I please borrow it, too?
    I totally agree with you about the reluctance to give up beloved books. Why, it's like tossing an old friend into the trash! I could no more give away my old Trixie Belden books than I could give away my cat.
    Hmmm...I think I might just visit the playroom upstairs and get out one or two of those old tomes. After all, what are old friends for?

  9. Thanks Saz - Love to see what books have inspired people. I've never been able to get my list below about a hundred so gave up and created my own book blog.... And you've given me some more to add to my 'Books to read' list now.

  10. Doesn't a list of our favourite books say so much about us? And very interesting how different books speak to different people.

    I won "The Little Princess" for getting the most gold stars in our class in first year juniors (always an overachiever!) and I loved it, still have it.

    However, "Atonement" is one of a handful of books I just couldn't finish and I was sorry I wasted two hours of my life watching the film!

    Our school librarian wants staff to list three books that influenced them to feature in a section in the school library, I've got as far as "Brideshead Revisited" and "Nineteen Eighty Four" - perhaps I feel a post coming on .......

  11. Doesn't a list of our favourite books say so much about us? And very interesting how different books speak to different people.

    I won "The Little Princess" for getting the most gold stars in our class in first year juniors (always an overachiever!) and I loved it, still have it.

    However, "Atonement" is one of a handful of books I just couldn't finish and I was sorry I wasted two hours of my life watching the film!

    Our school librarian wants staff to list three books that influenced them to feature in a section in the school library, I've got as far as "Brideshead Revisited" and "Nineteen Eighty Four" - perhaps I feel a post coming on .......

  12. I'd have trouble choosing just fifteen too!

    What I find interesting about this sort of list is not what we have in common, but where we differ. So many of those books are ones I've wondered about reading but have never got around to.

    *sigh* So many books, so little time :-)

  13. Enjoying your posts-I've read A million little pieces too. Little did I know at the time that my husband was an addict!

    I've tagged you in a tag of 8's.When I publish it.

    Chic Mama

  14. ah glad to see you grabbed this one. it's so interesting to read other people's lists.

  15. LOVED Shipping News .. hated the movie they made if it, it was badly/poorly cast.

    Little Princess is a fav as was Secret Garden.

  16. It would have taken me forever to compile this post but my favourite book of all time is in your list. I could read Pride and Prejudice over and over again and do so.

  17. Yep AA Milne, Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice to it for me too

  18. What an interesting idea!

    I've read some of your choices, and I've read other books by some of your authors. AA Milne .. I didn't read it when I was a child, but OH brought his into the house when we married, and I read them to the boys when they were young and they - and I - loved them. I really do 'get' the magic!

  19. Excellent! I'm so glad you decided to do this. I wish everybody would. It gives such insight into a person, and also brings to light some wonderful reading material.

  20. Oh wow, how to narrow it down to 15, let alone to one!? I have the same problem as you I guess: how to decide whether to throw out any books. Usually: none!
    I have read several of your choices and your number 15 would make it on my list as well.
    Great idea!!!

  21. I've read some and not others. I admire your selections. I tend to devour trade paperbacks, but once in a while, something thoughtful slips in.

  22. I find I don't need to hold and own books as I once did. I'm not sure what that means, if it is good or bad.

    I'm an Irving fan, as well. I just recently read that he writes his last line first and never changes it as he writes the novel to meet that last line. Curious, intriguing thing, that is.

    (Thank you for sharing today. Apparently I got carried away afterward but it is a truth and who am I to hide? xo)

  23. It's physically painful trying to toss out books. Favourite books read to my kids were Tim Kipper - an anti-smoking rhyme - by Robert Swindells and Don't Eat The Teacher by Nick Ward. Both shall live on until I die!

  24. AA Milne was a big part of my childhood too.

  25. I've already commented, but just wanted to let you know that despite the daunting task, I wrote a blog about my 15! Thank you so much (and the ones before you)!

  26. The Five Little Peppers and How they was my mothers and she read it to me and I read it to mine...and The Lovely Bones by Alice have a great list...I've read nearly 2/3 of them...

  27. Oh I loved The Shipping News. Annie Proulx is such a talented writer.


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Take the weight of your feet, draw up a chair and pour yourself a cuppa. Leave your troubles at the door and together we shall ride out the storms.
I will walk a while in your shoes...

Saz x

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