Saturday, 20 September 2014

Game-changing Novels

So my daughter was asked to name her Top Ten Most Influential Books -  not the BEST, nor the GREATEST, nor the ones you've READ RECENTLY, nor the ones you think SHOULD BE on a top ten list.

What are the ten novels that have been MOST INFLUENTIAL on your life?  The ones that CHANGED THE GAME for you?  The ones that, after reading, your life was forever different?

Harriet's list

Harriet’s list was (in alphabetical order of title):

Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress - Dai Sijie
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
The Far Cry - Emma Smith
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Sum: Tales from the Afterlives - David Eagleman
The Tiger's Wife - Tea Obreht
A Town like Alice - Nevil Shute
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

My list

Here are mine (in order of the age, roughly, when I first read them):

Lord of the Flies – William Golding (read aged 14)
The Once And Future King – TH White (read aged 15)
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë (read aged 17)
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee (read aged 17)
Great Expectations  - Charles Dickens (read aged 20)
Dragonflight – Anne McCaffrey (read aged 24)
The Sea The Sea – Iris Murdoch (read aged 28)
A Man of his Word/A Handful of Men – Dave Duncan (read aged 38)
The Sunne in Splendour – Sharon Penman (read aged 40)
Oryx and Crake – Margaret Atwood (read aged 48)

What do I notice about the books that changed things for me forever?  History, myth, fantasy, love and violent actions are common threads.  Six of the ten works are written by women.  Should I have worked harder to include books by writers I admire like Alice Hoffmann or Anne Tyler, Philip Pullman or CS Lewis?  What about my childhood obsession, Enid Blyton?

What was I heartbroken to miss out?

Close misses from the list include (alphabetical by surname of writer) I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Emma by Jane Austen, Villette by Charlotte Brontë, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Bleak House, Hard Times and Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Howards End and A Passage to India by EM Forster, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Rainbow by DH Lawrence, The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing, Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Treasure Island by RL Stevenson, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

If anyone knows me well, and wants to prompt me with anything I’ve forgotten – or provide their own list, please do so.  I might attempt a future blog about poets/poems/plays – but might have to exclude Shakespeare because of the impossibility of choosing between his creations….