10 books that have impacted my life…

So yet another “fill it in and tag your friends” thing is doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment called “10 books that have impacted your life so far…” and I thought “oh that would make a good blog posting! Now let’s be honest here. Most people will list 10 important books that will most likely be important literary books that somehow don’t include the likes of their favourites (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc).

I however am not ashamed to admit my list of books that have had an influence in my life so here they are in no particular order and why!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S.Lewis).

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What a fantastic tale this book was for a young girl getting into reading! This was probably my first “big book” or novel and it was love at first read. The fantastical story of another world, where children face adventure wit courage and wonder. I love this book so much that I was given a BBC Audio tape version which I listened to more times than my mother thought was good for me. As I got older I still loved this story and upon reading it with more wisdom I discovered the similarities between Aslan and Christ and how C.S.Lewis weaved the two together.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee).

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Admittedly I saw the film long before I read the book, but that certainly didn’t change anything for me. The book read like a life being breathed. As the pages turned I lived in the South and saw the injustice that Atticus Finch would fight against for Tom Robinson. I wanted to know Boo Radley and I wanted to help Scout punch the boys on the nose at school.

The five people you meet in heaven (Mitch Albom).

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This book was one of the first books that really made me cry. A small book with the lovely message of you just don’t know how your actions could impact on another. There’s often a quote that gets put up places saying “be kind, be kind, be kind” because we never really know the battles that others we cross paths with are taking on.

The Survivor: An Inspiring True Story (Jack Eisner).

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Almost everyone goes through a stage where they devour a few good holocaust/WW2 true stories. They’re often heroic or heartbreaking, but regardless of the ending you’re always left feeling amazed at the human spirit no matter the odds. I’ve read many over the years including Anne Frank’s Diary, Schindler’s List, Elie Wiesel’s Night and the Book Thief but no holocaust book has ever impressed upon me more than Jack Eisner’s account on how he survived and escaped the holocaust. It was this book that truly helped me grasp the power of desperation and the desire to live.

The Death gate Cycle (Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman).

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I’m not entirely sure which was first this series of books or The dragonlance series, but one of them was my first experience at a “fantasy series” of books. I distinctly remember being in year 12 and being very unwell with a chronic ear infection. Mum handed me Dragon Wing and suggested I check it out. This began my love affair with the world of fantasy novels. I discovered that I had much in common with Haplo as I followed him through seven books as he learnt more and more about himself and in turn about the many worlds that he would visit. I marvelled in the complexities of the books and the characters and I soon forgot about my throbbing head.

The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R.Tolkien).

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It seemed only right to visit the master of the fantasy genre after reading so many others. When I was a preteen I tried to tackle this book after revelling in the adventures of Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit, but soon found I wasn’t able to get beyond the first half of the first book. When I was older and had tackled the likes of Raymond E. Fiest, Weis & Hickman and Eddings I felt ready to revisit this behemoth of a novel. It didn’t disappoint. Reading LOTR is like opening up a hole, falling in and popping out at a whole other world. A fully realised world with complex politics, race, beliefs and characters. Finishing this book is akin to achieving a life goal, a goal that you want to revisit again and again.

The Color Purple (Alice Walker).

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A story written so well that it becomes like a living breathing thing that allows you to empathise with someone living in a circumstance that doesn’t match your own is what this book does. This book had me forever hoping that Celie would eventually get a break from the hand that life had dealt her. I cried with her, felt shame with her and found a sense of self pride buried deep inside against the odds.

Mrs Dalloway (Virginia Woolf).

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Ah Mrs Dalloway. A complex story that gives a glimpse into mental illness, suicide and strangely enough, happiness. I’ve always felt a connection to the themes in this story and have never been able to explain why, but there it is.

The Whole Woman (Germaine Greer).

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When I was at uni one of my favour subjects was “ethics” I loved this subject and it opened the door to exploring themes such as the feminist movement and I decided to check out who this “Germaine Greer woman was”. This book was highly humorous and eye opening to many aspects of society across the world. This book challenged my views on the world and that there is still much left to do for women.

The Belgariad (David Eddings).

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I know I said this list was in no order but I’ve been cheeky and left my favourite until last. If Eddings is master of anything in the written fantasy world, then he is the master of character development. The characters in these books feel like great old friends, and like any good old friends I feel the need to revisit them often. Both this series, the series that follows it (The Mallorean) and his other series of books following the adventures of Sparhawk, Eddings manages to wrap you up in a comfortable bubble where you can be with your favourite characters book after book. I consider this series one of my mum’s best gifts to me.

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