15 Books in 5 Minutes

hamletIt’s time to hop on the old meme train! A good’n has been doing the rounds lately: it’s the 15 books in 15 minutes meme, which I’ve changed to 15 books in 5 minutes because I don’t have a spare 15 minutes to sit and think about it, and hey, if I can’t think of 15 books I’ve read that will always stick with me in under 15 minutes then clearly I haven’t read enough.  Gosh that was a long sentence.

So here’s my list:

1. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this series. The last time wasn’t long ago. My mother read it to me before I could read and I’ve had an intense love affair with it ever since. I have a 1925 edition bought for me by my best friend when we were happily delving into mountains of old books in Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Again, a book given to me by my mother. It was the first time I’d experienced a book ALL about women and I loved it.

3. It by Stephen King This book scared me more than any other book or film in that genre since. Mostly because after reading it when I was about 13, I haven’t been able to return to the genre. I have also never stood on a drain, ever again, and will not, for the rest of my life. To say that this book has stuck with me is a HUGE understatement!

4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck I think this was the the first book that led me to an awareness of what good writing is and the sort of ride it can take you on. I was quite young when I read it, but old enough to appreciate the writing and the incredible characterisations.

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this book. The darkness, the cruelty, the windswept romance of it draws me in, and the feminist in me recoils, not matter how much I try to put it in historical context. There’s something horribly brilliant about it and it’s always stuck with me.

6. Ferney by James Long This is an incredible, eternal love story. It really struck a deep chord in me. Maybe it’s because of my Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation, but a love story that spans lifetimes really got to me. The historical aspects of it are very fulfilling. I’ve given it to family and friends because it effected me so much and so far no-one else has been touched like I was, so maybe it just fits me like an old jumper. I’ve read it several times and could happily read it again.

7. Saturday by Ian McEwan The craft of this book opened my eyes as a writer. It had a tangible effect on my first novel. It made me stop and think about the craft. The long sweeping sentences, paragraphs long, and yet the entire book spans an hour? That’s tricky stuff, and it’s such an absorbing, satisfying, suspenseful read.

8. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver Another book I just wanted everyone around me to read. I devoured it. Every word. I underlined. I nodded. I cried. I wished I’d written it. I loved every devastating word.

9. The Female Eunch by Germaine Greer I got mad when I read this. Real mad. Mad it hadn’t been handed to me when I was a girl. Mad that so few people I know have read it. Especially men. It’s brilliantly written and horribly real.

10. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee The craft of this book is ridiculously brilliant. When I need to see perfect dialogue, I flip it open. Every page is covered with it. So much about this book touched me on so many levels; as a writer, as a reader, as a human soul in this world we live in.

11. Benang by Kim Scott This Miles Franklin winner was a recent read, so sticks with me for that reason, but it was another of those books that put a fire in my belly. I rang my mother and asked her why I wasn’t taught any of our Indigenous history at school, like it was her fault! This book is not an easy read. The structure is complex and takes a very circuitous route. But, oh, my, god, it’s worth it.

12. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger My year 9 high school English teacher recognised my hunger and used to give me extra reading and assignments and this book was one of those. I remember reading it and thinking how different the protagonist’s experience was to my own teenage experience! I was amazed and quietly proud that my teacher had given it to me. It felt subversive and very very adult. I haven’t read it since, but it’s stuck with me very clearly all these years.

13. A Mercy by Toni Morrison Another recent read, this book left me weeping uncontrollably on the loungeroom floor. I tried to pull myself together and then realised it was pointless and let myself blubber for a long time. If every boy born to this earth was given a copy of this book, the world would be a very different place, I’m sure. The final chapter of this book is so incredibly gut-wrenching it shifts you on your axis and you are never the same.

14. The Turning by Tim Winton I LOVE this book. I savoured every word. I slowed down as I neared the end. What a master story-teller Winton is. There is a description of female adolescence in this book that is unlike anything I’ve ever read. The fact that a man wrote it blows me away.

15. Hamlet by William Shakespeare This surprised me, this one; that in my allotted 5 minutes, Shakespeare would slip in, but here he is. I had to study this in both English and Eng Lit at high school and then again in Language and Culture and in Theatre at University, so I know this text, believe me! It’s another love/hate relationship, but it has stuck with me and undoubtedly always will.

on’t take too long to think about it. List 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you — the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
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20 responses to “15 Books in 5 Minutes

  1. Barbara Kingslover has another book coming out…

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  2. Ohhhh, Hay-on-Wye….booklovers’ paradise! Do they still have the ‘honesty bookshops’, the full bookcases standing along lane ways and road sides with a box to stick your money in?

    I don’t think I can think of 15 books that have changed my life…is that indicative of my pickiness, or have I just not read enough…probably the latter…hmmm!

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    • I’d love to go back to Hay-on-Wye. Also had the best scones I’ve ever tasted there! I don’t remember the roadside bookcases!!

      I’m sure you could think of 15 books that have stuck with you. They don’t have to life changing! Quit being so damn dramatic!

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      • 😉 oh alright! Here’s a few (I won’t do 15 because it will take up too much space!)
        1. ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt. Possibly the only book I’ve read that I actually slowed down and began rationing myself with when I realised I might have to finish it! It’s masterful writing to be savoured slowly.
        2. ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis. I really think the whole Narnia series, discovered at age 9, turned me into who I am today (for better or worse!).
        3. ‘The Dark is Rising’ (whole series) by Susan Cooper. Another childhood favourite that forged my personality.
        4. ‘Mythago Wood’ (and the related series) by Robert Holdstock. I adored these books, they somehow managed to make fantasy real, poetic, dirty and rational all at the same time. His ideas continue to influence me.
        4. ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte. Frustrating for many of the same reasons you found it annoying Simonne. But also because I first ‘discovered’ WH through Kate Bush’s wonderful, magical, surreal song, and by the time I actually got around to reading it years later, I’d built up my own version of what Cathy and Heathcliffe were like, and was SORELY disappointed by the ‘real’ thing. I think it’s where I first learnt that sometimes our ideas about something can be far more important than the thing itself, even if those ideas are wrong. MY version (and Kate’s) is still far more important to me that Emily’s!
        5. ‘The Bible’. Not because I believe it, but because it is probably the single most influential written text of our society, whether we like it or not, so it’s not a bad idea to have some idea of what’s in it, and what we think about it. I scribble a lot in the margins!
        6. ‘Silk’ by Alessandro Baricco. A tiny book, so few words…yet so much is said. Beautiful.
        7. ‘5 Denials on Merlin’s Grave’ by Robin Williamson. I’m cheating a bit, this is actually a recorded poem, but I’ve also got the written text. This was a watershed in my life, first heard on the radio at age 16. This also remains one of my greatest influences.
        8. ‘The Tempest’ by Shakespeare. For similar reasons to ‘Wuthering Heights’. I’ve carried a version of this, markedly different from Bill’s, around in my head for so many years it’s part of me.

        I’ll leave it there!

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        • Great list Christina! The Wuthering Heights bit made me laugh. I lOVE that song and can see how that reading the book after it might lead to some disappointments!

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          • Yes, Cathy turned out to be an annoying little spoilt bitch that I just wanted to SLAP…and Heathcliffe was just too disturbing to even begin to like! But the IDEA of the wild and untamable young girl and the love that transcends death, all set against the wild and mysterious moors, is just too delicious. It’s become part of general culture now, you don’t have to read the book to understand the themes, and perhaps it’s better not to…it doesn’t quite fit with our 21st century sensibilities! 😉

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  3. I’m a big fan of long sentences. And books.

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  4. Wow, you dovetail with Charlotte at Charlotte’s Web on a surprising number of these – and where it’s not the same title there are a couple of same author choices. Interesting. Very interesting. And I would agree with a number of your picks myself. Or is it what you describe…?! For instance, I’ll never forget the author’s foot being hacked off in King’s Misery (the only one I’ve been able to read because it disturbed me so), and I slowed down when I realised I was reading Winton’s Breath so quickly it was all going to be over far too soon, and… well, I just wanted to *be* Anne of Green Gables! Good meme.

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    • There some repeats, aren’t there? Well I did read her list a week before I wrote mine, so perhaps I was influenced!
      Misery is an amazing book too. I think Stephen King has been vastly underestimated. Although, that does seem to be changing now.
      I loved Breath. I spent many of my childhood holidays where it was set, and it all felt so true and somehow haunting.
      As for A of GG… I wanted to be her too. Sigh!

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  5. Pingback: One book in one minute « Off the Beaten Track

  6. harold

    Stephen King is great. there is an up and comer in the horror genre and that is the author of Mound HIll Cemetery, the world within

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  7. Dawn

    I thought I made the best scones in the world!!!!

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  8. Great list of books. I have read a few of them.

    Steven T.

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  9. Oh well! Great to hear you’re a fan of Hamlet!

    I’ll have to send you my’ Hamlet… In Purgatory’ short story to read when it’s finished, I think you’ll get a *massive* kick out of it 😀

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  10. I’ve been collecting people on facebook responding to this meme… Amazing how many of them cite Harper Lee/To Kill a Mockingbird on their lists.

    As for Narnia… I read those constantly when I was around 10-13. Somehow now they don’t resonate nearly the way they once did. I’ve wanted to look back at the “Out of the Silent Planet/Perelandra/That Hideous Strength” series again now that I’m old enough to get through That Hideous Strength, which was too tough/dark for me when I first hit it.

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  11. Pingback: The Collector | into the quiet

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