September 8, 2014


Filed under: growing up,recommended reading — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 11:28 am

There’s a “10 books that have influenced me” meme going around on Facebook at the moment. I feel that I’ve done this before but possibly at live events rather than online, so for posterity, here are mine.

The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
This book is in the genre I like best, “realist magicism” as I call it, set in the real world but with the supernatural creeping in around the edges. Its mixture of magic, romance, and horror was exactly what I loved as a teenager and I still love it today.

Archer’s Goon, Diana Wynne Jones
I could have picked over half Diana’s books as influences but I’ve chosen this one because of how very funny it is. Seven sorcerer megalomaniacs are secretly running the town and using Howard’s family in their plots and schemes. But the joy of it is in the comedic chaos of the story.

I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
All the romance of living in a castle tempered with the realism of its discomforts, together with a plot about books, about realism, loyalty and betrayal.

The Dancing Meteorite, Anne Mason
I loved this book so much, I must have read it a hundred times, but no one ever name checks it except me. An SF novel with a heart, reminiscent of Louise Lawrence.

DragonSong, Anne McCaffrey
As an adult I am less attached to Anne McCaffrey but I still think that the three Menoly novels are her best Pern fiction, perhaps because they are at one remove from the dragons at the centre of the series and deal with characters who are less powerful and influential than the dragon riders.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
There’s something about the family domesticity of this book, dated as it is, that rings completely true. Jo’s fury with Amy when her sister wrecks her book, Meg’s overdoing the makeup and borrowed clothes, Amy’s contraband limes. I still reread this and its sequels and find things I didn’t notice as a child and a teenage reader. Now I understand why Jo chose to marry as she did.

The Weathermonger, Peter Dickenson
Post apocalyptic before it was trendy, I loved this book so much that I said when I grew old enough to have my own cats I’d name them Shadow and Ghost after the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and Ghost that appear only briefly in this plot.

Sister Light Sister Dark, Jane Yolen
A clever format which casts doubt upon the story’s reliability, an invented mythology and world, and an original and inventive magic system.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
At age ten I was obsessed with this book. I identified more with Tom than Huck who is only a cameo character int his book. Tom’s world with its litter of treasured items is seductive: the doorknob he gives a s a love token, the marbles he trades for coloured tickets, the miscellaneous found treasures and trash – that’s what I loved about this book. I even had my own hoard of similar items kept in a cigar box in true Sawyer style.

Homecoming, Cynthia Voigt
A more modern family narrative than Little Women and a much more powerful drama. This book and its many sequels are contemporary writing at its best. The characters are contradictory, not falling neatly into any stereotype, and committed to each other with a strong family bond.

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