You may have already guessed, but I am a big advocate for reading for pleasure. I was recently asked to create a display at work- our favourite reads- in conjunction with the upcoming BBC #LovetoRead campaign. The campaign aims to ‘inspire a new generation, to let everyone have a say on the books that matter most to them.’ There has been a fantastic lineup of shows on BBC, culminating in the #LovetoRead / #BookSelfie weekend on 5th-6th November. One interesting idea was Simon Mayo’s Desert Island Books– BBC Radio 2- where famous authors pick six books that mean the most to them. I thought I’d give it a go.
My Desert Island Books:
1. Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the chocolate factory
I was lucky that my parents encouraged reading from a young age, joining me to the library as soon as they could. One of my earliest memories of reading independently was Charlie and the chocolate factory- my mum’s battered old copy. I remember the magic of Roald Dahl in the same way as most people think nostalgically of Disney films. I wanted a winning Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight to visit Wonka’s chocolate factory. To be honest, I still do.
2. Brian Jacques’ Redwall series
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransom (they are probably responsible for my love of mystery stories today) but memories of summer holidays will always take me back to the Redwall series. Set in Mossflower woods and the Redwall Abbey, the fantasy series is set around adventures with a plethora of animal characters. I vividly remember falling in love with Redwall and Mattimeo, but I can’t quite believe he wrote 21 books in the series! I have some serious catching up to do.
3. Carol Ann Duffy’s The world’s wife
I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry, particularly at school. School ruined Shakespeare for me and even to this day, I haven’t been able to pick up another Ian McEwan. For A-Level English, I was tasked to read the world’s wife. I loved the mythological links, the fairytales turned on their heads, all from a female perspective. Some were hilarious, some very sad. A wonderful collection that turned my opinion of poetry on its head.
4. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian
I didn’t really enjoy reading at University at all. There’s only so excited you can get about big hefty books about the water supply to Ancient Rome… The only one I remember liking was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Perhaps that’s why, when browsing in a charity shop after moving back home, I felt compelled to pick up the Historian. A modern remake of the old tale- Vlad the Impaler- with a mystery set firmly in the present, I remember finally finishing it at 4am. Exhausted but satisfied. Not long after, I found the job at the library. Perhaps it was fate.
5. Kate Atkinson’s Started early, took my dog
There are books in your life, when you think about them, that immediately transport you back to where you were when you read them. For me, Started early, took my dog takes me back to my honeymoon. Ultimate happiness and relaxation. It was also my first proper thriller and I loved it. Just such a shame that it was fourth in the series… oops. For me, this series will always be the benchmark for thrillers.
6. Terry Deary’s Rotten Romans
I was torn about whether or not to include this book in my list. It absolutely had an impact on my life in terms of my love of Roman history. Without it, I would not have studied it at university. All I will say is that I was lucky enough to be born into a family with money available for extras such as books (I do in fact own a copy of this book). Not everyone is that lucky. For people (particularly children) with nothing else, libraries (both school and public) will continue to be essential.
Check out #LovetoRead on Twitter here to see what everyone has been recommending!