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The books that made me.

(Picture credit)

It should come as no surprise that I love books, after all, this is a book blog, but there are some that hold an extra special place in my heart. With that in mind and after finding and adoring Emily’s, (from Surprise Delivered ) post, I knew I had to have a go. 

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

If you’ve read my post about Edinburgh or have spoken to me about books, you’ll know that I adore Harry Potter. It was the first series, with no pictures, that I remember falling in love with. It encouraged my imagination and inspired an obsession that, even at 22 is still going strong. Sure, maybe now, I don’t find the writing style – especially in the first book – brilliant, but I don’t mind. I was three when it was published, and, as much as I try to deny the passage of time, I am no longer its target audience. The books feel comforting and reassuring; they are full of good and, to be as cliche as possible, they feel like coming home.

The Order of the Pheonix also reminds me of my courage and strength. I was bought the 677-page book as part of a reward scheme, thought up by my parents, to encourage me to stick to my rehabilitation program after my hip dislocated and I had to undergo an operation. So, even though Order of the Pheonix is not my favourite in the series, it probably means the most.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Besides Harry Potter, this is the book I remember being read to me multiple times, as a bedtime story by my Dad. As a child, I loved the nonsensical characters, the brightness and colour, and the side-stories that ran throughout – The Walrus and the Carpenter anyone? I loved the rhyming that made it easier for me to remember parts of the story and the idea that I too could stumble across something that would turn my world upside down and magical. As an adult, I still love all this but also appreciate the other, darker undertones. Above all this, though, I adore the power it still holds for me. I can read any page and be transported back to the safety and innocence of bedtime stories with my parents and my favourite characters.

The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Matilda by Roald Dahl

I still own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The magic finger, The Twits, James and the giant peach and, and a stand alone copy of Matilda, but one of my biggest regrets is passing on my big Hardcover bind-up of The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and Matilda. I loved it, it was pastel pink and illustrated by Quentin Blake. I wish I still had it. I don’t remember when or how I became a Roald Dahl fan, but I do remember taking that book, which felt massive to me as a child, on holiday thinking that it would be enough to read for the week – it wasn’t. I adored Matilda and still do. I wanted to be like, have the same powers and self-confidence as her, and I vowed that I would read all the books she did – I haven’t and may never. After reading about George and his creation, I went around the house and mixed whatever I could find; I felt like him but unfortunately all I created was a mess, and even as an adult I still want to go on an adventure with the BFG.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Like many, I first encountered Orwell in a GCSE literature class. Also, like many, I didn’t really enjoy it. However, about three years later I was rooting around in my parent’s bookcase and came across a tattered and yellowing, orange Penguin Classics edition. It was a sunny day, so I took it outside and devoured it. I have tried to repeat the process with my other GCSE texts and have had mediocre success, but Animal Farm was special, important. It started a slow but budding relationship with Orwell that has the power to grow and has introduced me to 1984 and Keep the Aspidistra flying as well as a few of his essays  – Politics and the English language is incredible. Thank you, Animal Farm.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

In slight contradiction to the above entry, it has to be acknowledged that I struggle with the classics. It was with surprise then that I found myself picking Les Miserables from the shelves of my local library and bringing it home; its size alone (1200 pages) made it intimidating. I had no expectation of finishing it or, if I’m completely honest, even giving it a second glance once surrounded by all my books which had bright covers and weren’t titled ‘The Miserables’. How I underestimated this book I read it everywhere, everywhere, I even sat in the airport carpark desperately trying to finish it before our flight to Italy. A few years later, I own two copies, have seen the stage show, own the DVD and hosted a ‘Les Mis’ week on my old blog. It hasn’t changed my mind about classics, I still find them intimidating and, usually, unnecessarily complicated, but it did teach me not to underestimate myself.

Am I normal yet? by Holly Bourne

I had received a lot of recommendations before I finally picked up this book. Why oh why did I wait so long? It’s incredible, one of the most unflinching and realistic tellings of life with OCD I have ever read. Unlike the other books in this list Am I normal yet? does not hold notable memories, it does not remind me of my childhood, it didn’t teach me to give books a chance in the same way as Les Miserables, nor has it made me question the importance of timing as part of the reading experience when as I when re-reading Animal Farm. What it has done, and this is why it’s so important to me, is fan even higher the flames of enthusiasm I have for YA literature and show me how useful such works can be for spreading awareness and for learning about ourselves and those around us. It is because of this book and the incredible Holly Bourne, that I have chosen the dissertation topic I have. Thank you.


Are there any books that have had a bigger impact on you than others? Let me know in the comments and lets have a chat about the books in our lives.


6 thoughts on “The books that made me. Leave a comment

  1. The Bell Jar made a big impact on my life. I was recently diagnosed with depression and was struggling with it. It was reading the words of Sylvia Plath when my emotions formed into words for the first time. It really helped me get to grips with what I was going through.


  2. I also feel a strong connection with the Harry Potter books. I was growing up nearly right alongside Harry it felt. Hermione has always been inspiring for me and even now, as a grown woman, I still like to re-read the books and draw inspiration from her intelligence and determination. 🙂 A few other very influential books for me: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Completely agree, I always wanted to be Hermione. She’s so smart and strong, unreservedly herself. I feel so lucky to be of the Harry Potter generation, I’m actually sad for those prior to us who still love the series but won’t have the same experience of growing up with the trio 🙂
      The Handmaids tale is a phenomenal book. I read the Goldfinch and really disliked it, have you read it?


  3. Matilda and Harry Potter were my childhood shapers. Even as an adult I am obsessed with HP. It is amazing how J.K. Rowling has bound us to this magical fictional world. Enid Blyton was also one of my favorites.


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