It’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.