There's nothng quite like getting lost in a good book. I've read a fair amount since I was about 10 years old and I thought I'd look back at some of the books that have featured heavily in my life. Actually they're series of books rather than individual ones, and I suppose it's great when you read the first of a series and enjoy it so much that you can't wait to read the rest. Anyway, here are some highlights from the early days to the Kindle era.
The first proper book I read after years of just reading the Beano. It was a Christmas present when I was 10, and sparked my reading habit into life. I eventually had all 21 of the Famous Five books, though annoyingly no 2 was a threadbare hardback and spoiled the bookshelf a bit.
I learned all my animal facts from this series of books by Willard Price. They were informative, exciting and environmentally sound. I read a couple with Cate a few years ago, to discover that they were also brutal. Serious animal cruelty and cold-blooded murder were all part of the story.
I started reading science fiction and fantasy novels in my teenage years. A friend at university also liked the genre and his favourite author was Jack Vance. Vance's novels were fairly ordinary space opera in terms of plot, but what set him apart were his characters and dialogue. Spiky, self-interested, vain, unsympathetic, they made the books come alive. The Arthurian-style Lyonesse series was probably the peak of his writing and just a joy to read.
While I was still at University my mum spotted 3 books at a jumble sale and knowing I liked fantasy novels, bought them for me at 50p each. They were the first 3 of the 4 book series Saga of the Exiles, a series about future and ancient earth with people possessing mind powers that transformed society. They're not that well known, but I think the best fantasy series ever written. You can keep your Game of Thrones!
I started work in the late 80s, and came across an author called Terry Pratchett. He was writing parodies of fantasy books, with lots of little in-jokes. The series started quite funny but without any depth, but as the books kept coming they concentrated more on story telling than on just getting a laugh, and kept getting better. This was my favourite of the earlier Discworld books.
My aunt Jess introduced me to this series of books. It might sound a bit odd to write a whole epic story of love and loss, war and adventure, cruelty and salvation, all based around moles, but these books are so well written they will draw you in and make you root for Bracken, Tryfan and the rest against the tyranny of Mandrake and his cronies.
Feist is well known for The Magician, and the series that followed it, but the Empire series, which he wrote with Janny Wurts, has a bit of a different tone, concentrating on a young woman suddenly put in charge of her family clan in a far-eastern style society where honour is everything and political intrigue is a way of life. Following her as she tries to save the family with enemies all around is a great read.
A good while ago I decide that while I enjoyed science fiction and fantasy, I should really also be familiar with the classic novels. I started buying a series that came out fortnightly with a magazine accompanying each book, and have gradually ploughed through them. I also downloaded a list of the greatest novels and have been ticking them off as I go. With my speed of reading this takes an inordinately long time, but it gives me a wider view of cultural touchpoints and a chance of talking to someone and finding something in common that we've read. Some of the classics I've really liked and some I've not rated at all, so renown doesn't necessarily mean a good read.
Anyway, here's a list of the top 22. I've managed to get through all of these, except for Gone With the Wind, which I'm currently a third of the way through. This isn't a recommendation. From the top 10 I only really liked 1984, Lord of the Rings and To Kill a Mockingbird.
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