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Tuesday 1 June 2010

My Favourite Childhood Books

I have always loved books and I believe that it is my love of books that has made me love writing so much.  I want to join the legions of people who inspire, change, entertain, provide an escape through their words.  Now, I have read a ridiculous number of books and I wouldn't be able to describe them all here - in fact I can't remember most of them unless I have a little reminder (be that an idea, the title or a scene).  But there are a few that stand out in my mind, ones I read when I was younger that have made an impact on me.  And the fact that I remember them inspires me to share them with you.

I read the entire Green Gables series (6 books in all though there are others based around the same characters) after seeing the film.  The first chapter, I remember I hated, it was long and boring, but once I got past that I loved every second of it.  I wanted to be Anne Shirley - in fact, the year my primary school participated in World Book Day I dressed as her only to find that no one, not even the teachers knew who she was (I was absolutely horrified as I had believed that at least the teachers would understand).  I'm also pretty certain that this is where my love of auburn hair originates from - I've always wanted auburn hair as to me it's the most beautiful colour, it's the colour Anne strives towards (to her, her hair is plain, boring red) and I've realised that I am more likely to be attracted to someone with auburn hair. Anne taught me to believe in myself and to work hard to get where I want to go.  I want to read this series again but it is with some trepidation as after rereading 'Little Women' by L. M. Alcott, I found that is wasn't half as good as I remembered it (this also happened with 'Jane Eyre' so is it a wonder I'm uncertain about rereading possibly the most influential book on my childhood.

I can't remember when I read 'The Flawed Glass' and nor do I remember much about it other than it deals with disability.  The reason I've included it here is because even all these years later I remember the feelings it brought up in me and I can clearly see the setting of the island in my mind - now if that's not visual writing I don't know what is.  I'm not sure how realistic this book is but it shows simple times when disability wasn't really understood and how one person can make a huge difference to someone's life.  I am definitey going to reread this over the summer just to find those passages of beauty and wind on my face recollections.

I absolutely loved Enid Blyton as a child.  To me, the characters lived the perfect childhood with picnics and girl's boarding schools.  For years I wanted to be in a boarding school and felt that my parents were stifling my brilliance by keeping me at home.  That was until we visited a boarding school and once I realised that they are nothing like the places of midnight feasts in the stories, my love for them dissipated.  Despite the unrealisticness of much of Blyton's writing they are something I feel should be shared with every child.  Though I am very angry at the 'politically correct' versions now being published.  How are children going to know what 'gay' originally meant if they never hear it in it's original context and have the chance to ask?  But political correctness is something for another post.  I now collect Enid Blyton books though I have no where near a full collection, I haven't been able to read all those I own yet.

In A Blue Velvet Dress is an incredibly moving and beautiful ghost story.  The main character is an avid reader and I think that that's probaby why she's stayed with me so long.  I don't really remember the aspects of the ghost story but I know it is when I realised that ghosts don't have to be scary and there is something sad about lost souls who have got stuck on Earth.  It changed my whole view on what is scary and why.  Perhaps ghosts scare us because the give the thought of being left behind or being on our own?

OK, so I didn't read this when I was a child, I read it only a few years ago but since then I have really wanted to read it again (if only there weren't so many books for me to read).  It combines two time periods and manages to weave them together almost seamlessly and the story is beautiful and artistic.  This is a book I would recommend to children and adults alike as everyone has something to learn from it.  It opened my mind to taking in everything and allowing other people, customs and ideas into my mind.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite books, why don't you share yours in the comments.  Is there a writer or story that has stayed with you or has a special meaning for you?


Anna R. Williams said...

I really enjoyed this post... I actually want to go and read some of these books myself.

And i love love love Annie Shirley. She has such a wonderful way of viewing the world. And fortunately, the films do the books justice!

Julie P said...

I love Ann of Green Gables! I loved the film too - did you see the television series? fantastic. I can't remember most of the books I read as a child but there is a course run by the OU dealing with children's literature I was going to do last year but had to pull out of.

Julie xx

Unknown said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who loves Anne Shirley (Julie, shame on you - it's Anne with an 'e') and Anna, I agree that the first two films do the books justice but the third film goes in a whole other direction which I believe is actually the time between two of the books. Also she never adopts, however, aparently her daughter does though I've not found that book in the 'Tales from Avonlea' series yet.