Here’s a list of ten books that stayed with me in some way, they are not necessarily my favourites, a couple probably aren’t even that good. They did, however, affect me in some way. I apologise if some of the pictures are poor quality, I wanted the cover version that they had the first time I read them so some of the pictures are OLD.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
This book made me want to write. The first time I read it I could not put it down. I wanted to be at that university with that group of friends,. I wanted to be friends with Donna Tartt. If only I could write like her.
Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
One of the first dystopian novels. I read this for the first time at a point in my life when I was first being introduced to politics. Although written in 1948, this book is still relevant today. It’s frightening, it’s depressing but you can’t put it down. It also has one of the most depressing endings in literature – “He loved Big Brother.”
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
You can keep Jane Austen, Emily Bronte wins it for me every time. I read this in two days when I was 17 and I’ve been a little bit in love with Heathcliff ever since.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson
A young girl’s struggle to be herself in the face of bigotry, homophobia and religious extremism. The scene where they are trying to “cure” her is terrifying. And if you think your mother is bad then this book will put things in perspective. Also, I can’t imagine not having books in my house.
True Grit – Charles Portis
It’s the only western I’ve read but it’s a good one. The main character is a 14 year old girl called Mattie who goes on a mission to avenge her father’s death. It always stuck with me , how people don’t give to credence to young girls and what they can achieve.
The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
This isn’t the best work of historical fiction and it certainly isn’t the most historically accurate but it was the first I read and it introduced me to the genre, a genre I still love today.
The Terrible Tudors – Terry Dreary
This is where my love for the Tudors and history in general began, in primary school with the Horrible Histories series.
Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
I read this YA novel recently and it really made me think about racism in ways I hadn’t before. It is an alternate history where Africans gained power over Europeans and made them slaves instead of the other way around. In the novel slavery has been abolished but segregation still operates. It’s a tragic story about two best friends with different skin colours. Blackman is quite clever at making you realise the things you wouldn’t normally notice. For example, in the book a white girl is injured and comes to school with a plaster on her forehead, she gets remarks about how noticeable it is because it’s dark brown, to which she replies “they don’t make white plasters”. In the real world, our world, plasters are beige to blend in with white skin, you don’t get darker plasters for darker skin tones. It’s a little thing that seems trivial but when it’s pointed out to you, you realise it isn’t. Why aren’t there different coloured plasters for different coloured skin?
Animal Farm – George Orwell
An allegory about the Russian Revolution and Stalinism, this book has one of the scariest endings I have ever read and it just gets scarier every time you read it. “The creatures look from pig to man, and man to pigm and from pig to man again, but it was impossible to say which was which.” It tells you about Lenin’s vision of communism and how it was turned into a brutal dictatorship by Stalin and his reign of terror.
Here’s To You Rachel Robertson – Judy Blume
I read all of Judy Blume’s books when I was a kid starting with the Fudge series but this was the first book I read aimed at older girls. It seemed so grown up. It probably would seem tame now. It was also the first book I read that had a swear word in it.