The marvellous Maggie of The Secret Life of Maggie May asked me to take part in the 10 Book Challenge. As a huge bookworm, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
How does it work?
It’s simple; you are asked to name 10 books you have read in your life which have stayed with you the most. They can be any genre, any length, any author. They might have stayed with you the most because they were poignant, because they were laugh-out-loud funny, or because they were just beautifully written. It’s not that simple for a true book lover.
Nominate three other bloggers once you have completed the challenge and use the hashtag
#10BookChallenge on Twitter and Instagram.
So let’s do this, in no particular order…
1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The only novel Oscar Wilde wrote and probably my favourite all-time piece of Victorian literature. I first read Dorian Gray when I was fifteen and the era, characters and narrative transported me back to the 19th Century and I loved it there. The way Wilde describes opulence and decadence captured me and his love of art was embedded on almost every page. The question of sexuality, masculinity and gender roles made this novel so controversial. The version we read now is the edited, less risqué edition. I studied Victorian Literature for the majority of my undergraduate degree and the whole of my Masters, the cultural history intrigues me and I think that’s why I love Dorian Gray so much.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gothic novel about sin, love, narcissism and the destruction of self.
2. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
I adore this book, I recommend it to anyone and everyone, it’s such a riveting plot and incredibly well written. The circus opens at night and closes at dawn, nobody sees it arrive or leave. Two rival magicians each train their young apprentices from childhood for a duel. The youngsters know nothing of each other, they don’t know that only one can be left alive, they just know magic. The reader is introduced to the wonderful acts of the circus and the apprentices’ stories are intertwined. It truly is a magical book, mixing fantasy with reality and I loved it.
3. Sherlock Holmes Collection – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
What can I say? I’m a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, and yes, I have read every story more than once. I love them. I love Holmes and Watson. Each story is formulaic; after you’ve read three or four tales, you know how it is going to play out but the content and characters are always different. I obviously have my favourite short stories; I absolutely love A Scandal in Bohemia – the introduction of The Woman, Irene Adler, the only time Holmes is outwitted, and it’s by a woman, so poignant. I also really like The Speckled Band, as it was the first Holmes story I read and I thought it was very clever. You don’t have to go out and read every single story but if you pick up any, I suggest those two.
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Well, it’s obvious isn’t it, have you seen my blog name? It’s timeless and cleverly written, it’s a complete adventure, it’s an acid trip, the characters are incredible and recognisable, it’s so quotable and iconic. Need I say more?
5. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
I was introduced to this at University – it’s a collection of short, fairy tales retold in a darker, sensual way that usually have a female heroine. The story The Bloody Chamber was one of my favourites in the collection, it doesn’t romanticise marriage or the fantasy of the ‘happily ever after’, it’s menacing and disturbing but demonstrates the empowerment and triumph of women.
6. The Jolly Postman – Allan and Janet Ahlberg
This is my absolute favourite book of my childhood, it’s perfect. I had to add this to the list even though it’s a book for children. I’m totally buying it for my nephew when he’s a little bit older. It’s an interactive story with envelopes and various letters that can be taken out of the book and read alongside the story of the postman.
7. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
I used this novella as one of the books for my BA dissertation and it’s so weird but it’s really good. It’s a late-Victorian gothic novella (are you sensing a theme here?) that follows the murders of various men in London, all associated with women that seem to be the same person. The dark, labyrinthine alleyways of London are described perfectly and the juxtaposition of the setting and the killer, sinister and macabre.
8. PostSecret – Frank Warren
I’m nosey, okay? I have all of Frank Warren’s PostSecret books, they make me smile, they make me cry, they make me sit and contemplate. If you don’t know what PostSecret is, it’s a book of postcards with secrets people have sent anonymously, some are beautiful, others disturbing and sad, others absolutely hilarious.
9. Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant To See – Bill Shapiro
This is showing my nosiness again – I can’t help it. I honestly cried at quite a few of these as they were absolutely beautiful and some hadn’t been sent to the recipient. If you’re nosey and a bit of romantic, I highly recommend taking a look at this.
10. Past Mortem – Ben Elton
I loved this book when I read it almost ten years ago. I got it as a Christmas gift and I’m positive it was the reason I fell in love with Crime Fiction. Not only that but once I read it, I gave it to my Grandad and we had some amazing conversations about it. My Grandad was a quiet, intelligent man (with a soft spot for his favourite granddaughter, of course) and he enjoyed this novel as much as I did.
It’s about a detective who tries to reunite with old girlfriends on Friends Reunited, whilst in the midst of attempting to solve perplexing murders, and his past colliding with his present. It’s a mystery thriller with comedic scenes and a bit of added gore.