No make-up selfies. Ice bucket challenge. What next? Something else to make the everyday person look a fool and feel forced to donate to charity, no doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I think charities deserve funding, and everyone loves an opportunity to do something silly yet worthwhile, but I do feel there is a surge of ‘social media bandwagons’ that capitalise on this. One person comes up with a ‘brilliant’ idea, then nominates a few friends…and before you know it someone on the other side of the world is watching it get closer and closer. Then the nomination comes and you feel you’d be judged for not doing it, so you duly pay your few pounds and copy all the other sheep. That feeling of being judged for not doing it is the main thing I think. Even if you know next to nothing about the charity in question, or have no connection with it, the views of your peers makes you feel you should. Maybe this is just me being paranoid. Maybe I put too much store in other people’s opinions. But then again, maybe not. Because I didn’t jump on the bandwagons. I didn’t take a ‘no make-up selfie’. I didn’t pour a bucket of ice cold water over my head. Why not? Because I didn’t feel I needed to. I wear ‘no make-up’ on an almost daily basis, so didn’t see why I should take a photo of myself (like the others I would put up on any other day), and pay for the privilege. I also didn’t want to feel I HAD to donate. I donate to charities on my terms. Charity shops, raffles, even sometimes people with buckets on the street. But that’s my choice, not someone else’s. It’s cliched to say ‘I am not a sheep’ but it’s true, and I really don’t get the craze for these chain challenges. We all complain about the £2 appeals you see on television in the lead up to Christmas, how is this that much different? It’s just in a different form of media.
Having said all that, I’m now going to be called a hypocrite. I was tagged on Facebook, by two different people, to do the ’10 book challenge’. To list 10 books that have stayed with me for one reason or another. At first I looked at it and thought, ‘oh no, not another one’ but then I stopped and thought again. Surely this has a result? Yes the afore mentioned challenges have the result that charities get huge increases in donations, in a short amount of time…but this could benefit more people by suggesting books to them. I have never underestimated the power of reading, and of literature. I used to devour books as a child. I couldn’t get enough of them! Bookshelves full, and then the library, then I started on my family’s collections. I don’t get as much time for reading now as I would like, but I still think the those pages give more than just words on a page. Vocabulary, ideas, imagination, facts, friends and a chance to escape from reality, even for an hour or two.
So, here are my 10 books, that have stayed with me since I read them:
1. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster – I read this when I was quite young, and I loved it. I think it gave me my early interest in words and numbers and logic. I re-read it a few years ago, scared I would be disappointed and that it wouldn’t be as I remembered it, but it was just as fascinating! My book belonged to my Mum when she was a child and was one of her favourite stories as well.
2. Dracula, by Bram Stoker – I didn’t expect to enjoy this that much, just felt it was one of those classics I should read. How wrong was I?! I think I read it in two sittings…I devoured it. Definitely something I could ‘sink my teeth into’ 😛 But it was so easy to read, yet so captivating, I was completely drawn into it.
3. Where Rainbows End, by Cecelia Ahern – A friend at school recommended this to me. I hadn’t heard of Cecelia Ahern, not even from the film PS I Love You, but I thought I’d give it a go. Since the very first few pages I’ve felt drawn to it in some way. At the time I read it, I could see parallels between my life and Rosie’s, and so felt that it was ‘my’ book. I ignored the things that didn’t fit, just for the sake of keeping the magic. I re-read it last year, and although things have changed for me, that book still means something. The film version is coming out later this year, and I’m both excited and scared that it won’t be right.
4. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy – Again, one of those ‘I should read more classics’ decisions. Again, pleasantly surprised! I was studying Russian at the time I read this, and so was totally engrossed in the culture. Discovering about Russian society, and the ideas of the time…it was the right book for that period in my studies. I did skip past a few of the agricultural bits that I found less interesting, but generally I was impressed by how much more readable it was than I expected!
5. Gingerbread Man, by Maggie Shayne – Not your traditional fairytale at all. I read this on my Kindle…I think it was a free book, or next to nothing…so thought ‘why not?!’. It’s one of those books you don’t want to keep reading, but you can’t put it down! I’ve recommended it to my Mum (not that she’s read it yet) just because it was more than I expected. A little bit creepy though.
6. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern – There was a lot of hype about this book, but I stumbled across it by accident. I took it on my Kindle when I went to Brunei, and discovered that Desiree was also reading it! Really, really enjoyed it; another captivating book that made me think. Plus now reminds me of an amazing holiday!
7. The Story of Bluebeard, by Charles Perrault – I had this story in an old Children’s Treasury of Literature. The book was huge, and full of excerpts, short stories and fables. Bluebeard is one that always stands out. I don’t know why, but it was always my favourite. Maybe it was because it wasn’t widely known, or maybe because I like the fact the last wife out-smarted him…but it made a lasting impression on me.
8. Struwwelpeter, by Heinrich Hoffmann – Another of Mum’s books. A collection of moralistic stories…some quite drastic! I think it certainly made me think twice about being naughty, sucking my thumb (which I think I was terrified of doing, lest my thumb be cut off!), and just generally being a ‘bad child’. Probably explains a lot of my behaviour, even now!
9. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare – Yes, it’s a play not a book per se, but I think it counts. I’ve always been fascinated by magic and witches, which I think comes from my Grandma…and so when I became aware of Shakespeare, and read some simplified versions I discovered Macbeth. Then at Year 9 we studied it, and for once only made me like it more, rather than destroying it! I remember having to write an essay on how we’d stage that first famous scene…and I was in my element! Then in Year 13 I was in a production of it at the Attfield, as one of the witches. So this play really holds a lot of memories for me, as well as fascination for the characters and story itself.
10. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë – I read this in my third year of uni, in my window seat. The first part of the book is of Jane, sitting hiding behind a curtain in a window seat! Once again, it just defines a certain part of my life, and every time I hear it mentioned or see the book I think back to those chilly mornings on St Paul’s Terrace, huddled between the curtain and the freezing cold window pane, reading my 1940s copy of Jane Eyre, the blue dye from the cover bleeding onto my hands.
So there are my 10 books. Some old, some new, some for the young, some for everyone. All special to me. Enjoy.
”Books are a uniquely portable magic” ~ Stephen King