My life in books

With no TV, books defined my childhood, but my reading habits went downhill from there.   I read War and Peace aged 11 for a bet (50p from the parents).  I read Joseph Conrad on a beach in Sri Lanka in my late teens.  But as time went on, and life got more challenging, I wanted the opposite from my reading matter.  So as my friends attend book clubs and read the latest Booker nominations, I'm reading teen fantasy fiction.  It's all about entertainment and escapism now!

And sometimes I can't find the energy or focus to read anything longer than a blog post.

But back to the past, and since I've previously written about the books I love, they will be excluded, as will everything Middleearth-related, as some of you *may* know that I have a bit of an obsession with the Lord of the Rings.

So I've selected a stand-out book from all the decades of my life so far.  Stories or memoirs that have stuck in my head even though I may not have read them for years...

1.  Childhood

When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson

This is a story of a friendship between two girls in rural Norfolk that is not what it seems.  But it is the otherworldly atmosphere and the loneliness and wildness of life on the sand dunes and marshes  that I remember.  I borrowed the book many times from the local library, but never bought it.  I tried to get it later, but it was out of print.  Now the story was been rediscovered and is being made into an anime by Studio Ghibli, which means that it will be amazing, according to my son.  Who knows, we might even go and see the film together!

2.  The Teen Years

Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole

Much of the time I could be found wading through all the books that my parents had already bought.  Including this one, the first of a series of historical novels set in the Lake District, where we holidayed every year.  It also inspired me to write my first book, sadly abandoned after the first 100 or so pages..

3. My 20s

Well you can see how well-thumbed this is: I was just fascinated by this story of the dark side of life in Berlin.

4. My 30s

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

I have Smiley to thank for discovering this book: I was stuck in hospital waiting for her to be born with nothing else to read, so Trainspotting will always remind me of the events that changed my life for ever.  But I loved Welsh's spare style, similar in ways to Roddy Doyle, another favourite author.  He writes like an artist who can capture a face with a few strokes of a pen, and yet the image is burned in your memory,

5. My 40s

One of the most powerful books that I have ever read and re-read .  Especially as I was in College in Manchester at the same time as the events in this book took place, I wandered the same streets, and lived close by.  And I was going through huge difficulties of my own at the time of reading too.  Don't pass this book by.

There seems to be a theme running through this selection: I've always been drawn to stories of survival against the odds, of good winning out over evil.  Stories that leave you with a sense of hope, something I have often needed!

Of course if you'd asked me for this list on another week, I might have picked a completely different selection...

More great book choices over at Kate Takes 5 for this week's Listography.

Note: as some of you know, my beautiful daughter is not well, and I am writing this while she has a little nap.  Fingers crossed we will not be in the hospital tomorrow.


  1. I loved When Marnie Was There. Excellent way of doing this Listography. I was stuck as I couldn't remember exactly where I 'd been when I read each book.

    1. I have to confess I got a bit stuck in my 20s :)

  2. I've not read any of these except Trainspotting, but I think I would enjoy them. I like stories of struggle against the odds!

  3. I was enthralled and horrified by that Christiane F book - and the film. So powerful. I love all your choices - and agree about only wanting the light stuff when times are tough. Hope you are doing ok. x

  4. Will have to add 3 and 5 to my reading list they look like my sort of reads. Have read trainspotting #listography

    1. No 5 is an absolutely amazing book IMO, hope you enjoy it

  5. I think I need to add all these to my readying list too - apart from Irvine Welsh, I have read his books.

  6. Looks like 'Marnie' has stood the test of time well! great list and a lovely way with words from your good self. I do hope your beautiful Smiley is feeling better and thanks for tweeting me about this linky. I really enjoyed doing it, it has helped ;-) xxxx Jazzy

    1. Glad you enjoyed doing it and loved your choices too xxxx

  7. Can totally sign under the first half of you post - I was a voracious reader in my childhood and my twenties, and thank goodness I read all these non-age-appropriate books because these days I only re-read Woodhouse... Hopefully one day we will all have more time and less worries, and return to "serious" reading (apologies to the ghost of P.G. for calling him not serious). Hope Smiley is better!

    1. Lovely to hear from you again Truf, and glad it's not just me who needs light reading right now. Smiley is lots better, thank you x