There’s this thing going around on Facebook where people are asking people to list 10 books that have stayed with them. It’s my kind of thing and I’ve enjoyed reading the lists.
I thought I would have a go at it myself.
As an aside, it felt a little revealing that I didn’t get tagged by anybody to do the list. I’m a pretty overtly ‘booky’ person, after all.
I think it confirmed for me the way I have always chosen to play social media. I’m there and I'm happy to be involved but I’m not part of any particular collective or cohort. I'm just a free agent, floating around. The thought seems to please me and confound me in equal measure.
Yes… Ten Books.
Ten? There could be fifty, couldn’t there? There’s been so many books down through the years. What I did, I sat down and thought about it for a little while (not too hard) and wrote down ten books as they came into my head. The result is not terribly high-brow or intellectual. I could have chucked in a couple of works of literature or well-thought-of tomes to raise my image a bit but why bother? It’s not like I’m trying to impress my cohort or anything (steady, Ken). Most of the books seem to come from my very early teens, where strong impressions were obviously made.
Also, because it’s my blog, I get to editorialise a little on my choices. In a number of instances, I’ve written stuff about these books already and, where that’s the case, I’ve thrown in a link to that piece.
The Dice Man - Luke Rhinehart: I was only a lad and far too young to be reading this. It’s stayed with my because of my perception of it as being uncomfortably ‘adult’ and marked the commencement of a reading and movie-going teen-hood which was always old beyond its years. (more)
Watership Down – Richard Adams: It gripped me and wouldn’t let go. Then it made me cry at the end. Forget the film, which is an honourable failure. This may well be my favourite book. (more)
Jaws – Peter Benchley: Ah, ‘Jaws’. I read it long before I ever heard a whisper of a movie and it may have been the first book I was anxious to get my hands on. I was eleven and my older brother had first dibs on it. Like the Dice Man, it was more ‘Adult’ than I should have been dealing with at that age. But no harm done. (more)
If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot: I think I was initially drawn to these books by the nice Norman Thelwell cartoons on the covers. I stayed for the warm simplicity of the stories within and, as one book cover put it, the ability of the author to tell a story against himself. I do that quite a bit myself.
From Russia With Love – Ian Fleming: I found a battered copy of this in the cupboard and loved how it had stills from the film on the back cover. I was reading Bond before I ever saw him on screen and so I remain drawn to the earthier misogynistic character who lives within Fleming’s pages.
Papillon – Henri Charrière: Again, I was eleven when I read this. I loved the heft of it and the way it had been written in copybooks. The time taken in reading it was like prison time and the concept of hiding your valuables up your ass was one that was hardly going to go away quickly.
The Kenneth Williams Diaries: I keep going back to these and I find it hard to pin down why. The book seems to capture a real life within its pages like nothing else I’ve ever read. The person in there is awkward infuriating and completely inconsistent but full of good deeds and hateful recriminations.
Deliverance – James Dickey: A rare occasion where I saw the film before reading the book. The novel has all the violence and adventure one would expect but there’s something more too. There’s a musing of what it might be to be a man.
The Karla Trilogy – John Le Carre: I just found these to be an enormously satisfying read. The first one ‘Tinker Tailor…’ exists in many forms on TV and film and I find them all engaging and find new things in them every time they come on.
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving: I love John Irving and I think this is my favourite of his. Owen is a great character and I think he haunts quite a few readers as well as me.
There you go. If you weren’t tagged you can consider yourself tagged now but only if you want to be.