Thursday, April 03, 2008

Five books which changed my life

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (Age 7)
This was the first book I remember buying with my very own money. (It was my first Communion money and I was about 7 years old.)
I bought it in Toymaster in Derry and felt so proud of myself. My daddy had been reading the books of Roald Dahl to us for years and it really fostered a love of reading in me, so when I bought this book and read it my very own self I was hooked.
Book buying was a huge thing in our house. Whoever got to accompany daddy to Stewarts Supermarket on a Friday night always got bought one of those "Read it Yourself" type books. I fell in love with The Little Mermaid that way (the non-Disney sad ending one) and The Secret Garden. The first Roald Dahl we were bought was The Magic Finger and I still remember crammed onto one of our beds while daddy read to an enthralled audience.
We didn't get much in terms of presents when we were wee, but there was always time for books.

Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy (Age 14)
Having moved through the Secret Seven Books, through Judy Blume and on past the Barricades book about love in 70s Belfast, I was introduced to Maeve Binchy. Light a Penny Candle was set (from my memory) in 50s Ireland and was a tale of friendship, betrayal, trust and (dun, dun, dun) abortion. I was scandalised, but quickly became hooked.
My Maeve Binchy all time favourites are "Evening Class" (so very cleverly done) and "Circle of Friends". (Although again why Hollywood has to change the ending is beyond me!)

City Girl/ City Woman/ City Lives by Patricia Scanlan (Age 16)
Although technically three books, these were are all about the same three woman and their lives. I wanted to be Devlin. I wanted to open my own branch of City Girl (A gym/ salon) in Derry and I wanted to marry Luke. (Admittedly I didn't want to go through all her tragedy too, but she came good in the end).
This was probably the first time I really became aware of Poolbeg and thought "hmmmm, someday I would really, really like that lighthouse on the side of MY book".
I didn't turn into Devlin, open City Girl, or marry Luke but I got the damn lighthouse!!!

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes (Aged 21)
Okay, so up to now I thought that every decent book set in Ireland had to be teeming with tragedy and steeped in misery and have every character at least once take a walk along the pier at Dun Laoghaire in the biting rain so that they could hide their tears.
Then I read Marian Keyes. And I laughed. Out loud. In public places. And I cried. Not so loudly. In public places. And I fell in love with the word feck.
And I decided that I would love, absolutely love, to write something that could make people laugh and cry like that - something that would be so heart stoppingly honest that you would swear I'd lived that life.
This book, it is fair to say, made me want to be a writer.

Rainy Days and Tuesdays by Claire Allan (Aged 30)
This is my book - with the lighthouse on the spine - with humour and bags of it and honesty too. It has changed my life- given me confidence in myself, kept me awake at nights, made me laugh and cry (for a number of reasons) and allowed me to believe that I could do this.
Anybody else want to share their pivotal reading moments? Keris? Diane? Fionnoodles?


Fionnuala said...

Oooh I so want to pinch this idea. Is there such an offence as blog theft?
Well surprise surprise Missus Allan, we share some pivotal book moments. I loved Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy too. I've only just recently read Rachels holiday and that was bril from Mazza the Queen of chick lit.
I LOVED The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Think thats how I spell it)As a child, I remember Enid Blyton but as a younger Mum loved reading 'Cant you Sleep Little Bear' and 'Guess How Much I Love You' which are wonderful books for young kids.
Am currently struggling with A Prayer For Owen Meany for book club (read Luisa's Split By A Kiss' in the middle and it was much better)
And last but by no means least -
Rainy Days and Tuesdays written by some deranged woman in Ireland.

Claire said...

I beg thee to steal it!
I steal stuff from Keris all the time!

We read the Bear Book and Guess How I Love You also - beautiful wee books.

Keris said...

Have just done it - thanks! :)

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