Books. Glorious Books.
We have often heard the old saying that dogs are man’s best friend. I quote Groucho Marx – “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
Books have found a comfortable spot in my life since young. You see, I don’t have a dog, so all those books happily took its glory best friend title instead. If you were borned in the 1990’s and love reading, we most likely share a similar reading history.
The earliest of my reading days I can recall ought be the Peter & Jane books. I actually remember reading this very page shown in the pic! My liking for countryside and farms could have stemmed from here. Lol.
It is inarguable that Enid Blyton is one of the greatest children author ever. Her books made up majority of my collection as a kid. I probably started off with Noddy, a wooden toy who drives around in his red and yellow car around Toyland and has a friend called Big Ears.
Were you a proud owner of those hard cover Enid Blyton storybooks for kids with a string of short stories or fairytales tucked in it? As a kid I definitely took pride in my collection, once tumbling down half a flight of stairs while carrying the whole stack downstairs.
No fairytale will beat The Faraway Tree series, in my great opinion. Imagine going up a tree where a ladder at the top brings you to magical lands which come and go on clouds. Imagine eating pop biscuits and going down the tree on a slide. …And that’s why we call it a fairytale. :)
Also, remember those boarding school series? Malory Towers…the Naughtiest Girl in Schvool…They made me long to attend a boarding school and have French lessons, share tins of cake with friends, go to bed in a dorm with other girls. *daydreams* Reality: Homework, homework, tuition, homework, tuition.
Now for the mystery series I so, so loved. The Secret Seven, Famous Five, Five Find-Outers, Adventure series etc…Addiction alert. While it is rather impossible in reality for children to outsmart cops in solving cases, mystery plots always grab my attention. And of course, talking about mysteries, one simply cannot leave out Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys! Agreee? :)
Roald Dahl was certainly a star author in my late childhood as well. His most well-known book today must be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, thanks to the movie and Johnny Depp. He wrote plenty more than that, eg. The Witches, The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), James and the Giant Peach etc. But my all-time favourite has got to be Matilda. I loved it to bits and read it so many times the story is etched in my mind. (With that, I won’t ever misspell ‘d-i-ffi-c-u-lty’ thanks to Miss Honey.)
Like many others, Harry Potter caught my attention well too for quite some years – I was the avid fan who must pre-order the books in advance of their release date. Can’t blame me as a kiddo…the 1st book was released when I was 7 or 8. Magic wands, floo-powder for teleporting, send letters using owls, flying on broomsticks…Enough to compel my wild imagination. (Fun fact: Did you know the idea of HP sprouted from J.K. Rowling’s mind when she was on a train ride from Manchester to London?)
As I grew older, naturally my books genre turned for a more serious tone. Classics, are classics; something not to be missed. There are plenty of good old classic stuff written back in the early days. Charles Dickens brought me into the world of classics through Oliver Twist’s forlorn childhood and you know a book is good when you find yourself re-reading it again and again. Honorable mentions to The Secret Garden, Little Women, Wuthering Heights, To Kill a Mockingbird etc. But I still have many classics left unread yet – ironically one of them the infamous ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I remember trying to read it at a younger age, got extremely fascinated by its opening and sadly could not understand the society depiction and French Revolution in the book very well. Perhaps now it’s high time I pick it up again.
Apart from classics, there were always those books everyone was reading at some point in high school – Sweet Valley Twins, R.L. Stine (Fear Street – ring any bell?), Danielle Steel , Nicholas Sparks, Chicken Soup series etc. Typicals may be typical but they still brought the joy of reading!
From college onwards, the habit was to read whatever intrigued me when I go for my rounds in the bookstores. Once in a while I’ll buy but most of the times I was a bookstore nuisance who thick-facedly/sheepishly stood next to the shelves and read.
If I were to pick a genre that has been sticking around with me till not too long ago, it’s probably the crime/thriller novels. Suspense and twists, nuff said. Favourite author award for the category? Lee Child. (Technically, I’m a Lee’s child. *shivers* :P) He crafted such a solid character in Jack Reacher but hmm, Tom Cruise is just nowhere near how I imagined him to look like.
My most recent single author obsession was John Grisham who plunged me in the world of American lawyers and associates working 80 hours per week. The indulgence of courtroom trials stories…till I read Calico Joe thinking it is a legal thriller and got confused when no super-intelligent lawyer appeared halfway into the book. Lol.
Now for some random books recommendations besides those I mentioned!
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It’s the first novel he wrote and he sure made it big. The plot revolves around a boy in a well-to-do family and the son of their family’s servant in Kabul, Afghanistan. While bringing the reader into the living cultures of this unfamiliar place, the story showcased genuine friendship, inner conflicts and guilt and so much emotion. Definitely worth a read and so is his second novel ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’; but I still like the first book more. Have not read the third – ‘And The Mountains Echoed’ so no comments on that! :)
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. (Non-fiction). Revisiting the Mount Everest tragedy in May 1996 and see from the author’s own view how the ill-fated incidents descended upon the climbers. He was one of the few in his group who made it back safely that tragic day. The book was an eye-opener, discovering the burning passion of mountaineers with fervent dreams of scaling treacherous summits. For me, I would be over the moon if I have the chance to just trek to Base Camp one day. But hmm, that’s gonna take some serious stamina improvement and fat savings in the bank.
Life Without Limits by Nick Vuljicic. (Non-fiction). The optimism and perseverance of a guy born without limbs is a perfect demonstration of God’s overflowing grace towards us. Life was hard when he was a younger boy trying to attend school like any other kid but God sustained him; now this guy shines with hope from within and has motivated souls across the globe. One nice acronym found in the book – FAITH: Full Assurance in the Heart. Sometimes all we need is a little more faith instead of wallowing in self-pity.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Just one look at the movie poster along the cinema corridor and I knew I must get my hands on this book. My instincts were right – the book is awesome. Although frankly speaking – I’m not very into the first-hand narration by Death, there is something about the author’s writing style that captivates. The story itself is beyond moving and you’ll find yourself vouching for many characters on Himmel Street, Munich in the 1940’s. Follow a young girl as she learns to read amid the unsettling times in Germany when Jews were sent to concentration camps and everyone had to keep ‘Heil Hitler’ by their tongue.
I could go on all day about books but I worry no one’s gonna continue reading. On my part, it has been fairly enjoyable travelling through my reading journey as I write this post. Like how memories and feelings are seamed into songs, so do they hide in books until you come across the books again. In contrary, you never know what kind of magical imagination awaits until you pick up and open the book.
Calling all fellow bookworms: feel free to share your thoughts or favourites! :D