Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

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Fifteen Books

I saw people taking the piss out of this one before I saw the real thing, so I was glad to have it explained to me by catsgomiaow: '15 books you've read that will always stick with you. They don't have to be the greatest books you've ever read, just the ones that stick with you. First 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.'

  1. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken
  2. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - Judith Kerr
  3. The Tiger Who Came For Tea - Judith Kerr
  4. Parade's End - Ford Madox Ford
  5. The Hunters - James Salter
  6. Henrietta's War - Joyce Dennys
  7. Dogger - Shirley Hughes
  8. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
  9. The 39 Steps - John Buchan
  10. Dr No - Ian Fleming
  11. The Hundred and One Dalmatians - Dodie Smith
  12. The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham
  13. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
  14. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe
  15. Tintin: The Shooting Star - Hergé

There must be hundreds of books that 'stick with me', sometimes just for one passage or character. Some are sticky because I hated them, because they frightened me, or because I had to read them for GCSE English.

The ones on this list were all picked because I have strong memories not only of the plot and the writing but of the books themselves - the pictures if any, the typeset, the smell, the dogears - and also of reading them in a certain place, at a certain time. In bed, mostly; or the landing of the house where I grew up, with my back against the radiator; or at boarding-school, wearing navy wool socks.

Several of these are holiday books; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Hunters and Parade's End were read (re-read in the case of Zen) on biking holidays in 2005, 2007 and 2008 (what the heck did I take in 2006?).

I can already think of lots of omissions and plenty of books that are clearer and dearer to me than the list above. ruudboy listed fifteen Target Doctor Who novels, and I could have done the same - those line drawings of Jon Pertwee getting strangled (which happened a lot, now I come to think of it - fetish alert!) are very fresh in my mind.

But there you have fifteen zeitgeisty books - where the time that they're the spirit of isn't the time when they were written, but the time when I read them.


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