Anne of Green Gables: In my inaugural post for the LoveCats DownUnder I spoke about how Anne Shirley made me a writer. Not LM Montgomery who wrote the Anne books, but the character she created. I loved Anne’s imagination and her way of looking at the world. And so, without knowing it, she encouraged me to create my own flights of fancy and to see beauty in unlikely places. She encouraged me to write my own stories. I will be forever grateful. Love you Anne-with-an-E (and LM Montgomery too, of course). :-)
I believe that childhood is a place where our reading can shape us. Enid Blyton gave me an enduring love of fantasy and happy endings with her Magic Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair, Hurrah For the Circus and The Children of Willow Tree Farm. I am also firmly of the opinion that Jo from Little Women and I are BFFs in a parallel universe somewhere.
Romeo and Juliet: this isn’t my favourite Shakespearean play (that honour would go to Hamlet), but this was the very first work of Shakespeare's that I was introduced to—in Year 10 English. The language was difficult and I found so much of it puzzling…but when I finally got the hang of it, I was lost. Shakespeare is a master of emotion and character. This love of Shakespeare led me to taking more Renaissance English classes at university than you could poke a stick at. :-)
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen is a genius, and each of her six novels is worthy of a place here, but this is the one that really makes my soul sing. Plus, Mr Darcy! Need I say more? :-) Jane Austen elevated romance to classic status—she showed how seductive, gripping and important romance was and is. Also, a heroine who turns down a marriage proposal from the richest man in Derbyshire…I mean, how can you resist that? ;-)
The Lord of the Rings: I was late coming to this story. I was seventeen the first time I read it, because I found reading Bilbo’s birthday-party preparations in the first chapter a real slog (because, frankly, it is a slog). But when I finally got past that first chapter, the epic nature of this work beguiled me. For a start there are all of those characters to love and root for (Aragorn is my favourite hero ever). Then there’s the message that a single person can change the course of the world. I read this every Christmas for at least five consecutive years. Whenever my confidence and self-esteem were wobbly, a hit of The Lord of the Rings could give me a real boost.
Eloping With Emmy: This is the book that had me not just wanting to write for the Mills & Boon Sweet line, but aching to write for it…determined to write for it. Liz Fielding created a feisty heroine and a sexy hero who liked each other despite being at odds with one another. This book wasn’t predictable, it took twists and turns that had me laughing out loud one minute and had my heart in my throat the next. Eloping With Emmy made me fall in love with all the possibilities inherent in category fiction.
There have been many other books I’ve loved. After all, I did an English Literature degree at university. I’ve read the classics…and many of them I’ve adored. I’ve read romance novels that have pride of place on my keeper shelves, but this post isn’t about my all-time favourite books, it’s about books that I feel have shaped my life in significant ways.
What about you? Is there a book or two (or ten!) that have shaped the person you are today?