Monday, May 17, 2010

Book 'em, Mello!

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I've always been a reader. When I was a kid, and things were different (as in we weren't permanently attached to TVs, phones and computers), I read voraciously. There was nothing better than a day spent curled up reading Enid Blyton series (Famous Five, Secret Seven, Malory Towers), Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew etc. (My goodness, I'm showing my age, aren't I??)
As I grew older, I read more of the pap than was probably healthy - Sweet Valley High, early Babysitter's Club etc, but never really lost the love of reading.

Now that I've ended up in a library, I've rekindled my love of books. It's not that I wasn't reading, but I wasn't reading as much. Now that I am around books all day, I have started a big list of 'books I must read'.

I must say though, even though I've read many of the 'classics', I do prefer a book that's easy to read and exciting, rather than heavy literature. I can't stand books that seem as though they were created to show off the author's extensive vocabulary. I like to be entertained, to be swept away to another world.

That's not to say that I'm a Mills & Boon type girl (I've never actually read one), but I guess people would find the types of books that I most enjoy to be 'popcorn'.

Mrs P, over at 'A Study in Contradictions' asked about our favourite books. I will send her my reply and let you know if she puts it on her blog, but in the meantime, I thought I'd make a start on my top five, and ask you, dear reader, for your recommendations.

Y'see, I'm a fairly cautious reader. I can't borrow books from the library any more (thanks to a massive fine that was the result of the book getting lost in my school library for a long time), so if I want to read a book I have to buy it, or borrow it from someone. So as a result I tend to stick to authors that I know, or books that people recommend to me.

Luckily, most of the books I buy are bought from the Salvos or Trash & Treasure, so it's no great loss if I never finish it, but still, I'm cautious.

So today, I'd like to share with you my favourite books, and ask you to recommend some good ones to me. Here is my top 5 (in no particular order):

Tomorrow, When the War Began
- John Marsden (and the 6 more books in the series).

I discovered this series late. It was only 2 years ago that I picked up the first book. I had always liked John Marsden's work (in fact, he's one of my inspirational people), and saw 'Tomorrow' in the library. I was instantly hooked and devoured the next 6 in quick succession.
Even though it's teen fiction, there's enough bite in it to make it great reading for an adult.

Magician - Raymond E Feist (and the multiple-book saga that follows it).

The first three books in this series are books I can read again and again and again. I was never a big fan of fantasy fiction until I read this series. I'm still not, but I love the weird combination of dragons, aliens, magicians and royal intrigue. Great stuff!

The Stand - Stephen King.

This book is nowhere near as gross as some of his other books, but I love the story. It's nasty and creepy and political; one of those books that makes you wonder about where humanity's going. It's probably a bit outdated now (it was written in the 70s), but I'm *just* old enough to understand the pop culture and other references.

Gridlock - Ben Elton.

Ben Elton is one of my favourite writers (his TV as well as his novels). I love his warped sense of humour and the way that his green sensibilites creep into everything he does. This is my favourite of his novels. I love the surprises that happen all the way through, and the 'almost' happy ending.

And.... I can't decide on a 5th! Perhaps you can help me! In the original message I sent to Mrs P, I named '19 Minutes' by Jodi Picoult as my 5th most favourite. But I think it depends on my criteria. The books I've mentioned above are all books I could read over and over again. I'm not sure that anything by Picoult is one of them! She does write gripping, compelling novels, but they leave you drained and sad. That's OK sometimes, but I'm not sure if I could read them over and over. I'm reading 'My Sister's Keeper' by her at the moment, which is probably a little too close to home for me, but I am enjoying it so far.

And then there's another of my favourite authors, Bill Bryson. I love the way he writes: alternately dry and hilariously funny, but also eloquent. He knows his stuff, and I thought 'A Walk in the Woods' was terrific (my other possible 5th).

But I've also enjoyed other books for other reasons. 'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel, for it's bizzare, sad storyline; 'The Bride Stripped Bare' by anon (Nikki Gemmel) for it's in-your-face-ness; and I've loved a range of biographies (often of people I was never interested in, in the first place).

So you can see my dilemma. The first 4 are easy, but then it gets tricky. And I'll probably go away and think of another 10 that I love.

Perhaps you can help? What are your favourite books/authors? Perhaps I'll find a new favourite.


  1. Hi Mel !

    Oh wow - you brought back memories when you mentioned the Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew etc!
    Weren't they the BEST back in the day?! lol

    I'm also a book lover. Like you, I don't get to the library - I'm just too lazy, but keep saying its something I "MUST" do,, you might have just motivated me for that,...taa! ;D
    I LOVE garage sales, just to go book hunting.
    I can't think of my fav author though!

    I've also read "My Sisters Keeper". The movie, I thought was fantastic, but I really preferred the book.
    I hope you're okay reading it xo

  2. Hi Mel, It's just great that you stir these other sorts of memories in people! I have never really thought about my favourite books, but when I did, one of the first ones that came to mind was, "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. I must admit I struggled a bit through Harry Potter, but when I realised how she had "woven" all the bits together, and they all got resolved, then I think they have to be up there.
    My all time regret is that I don't read more than I do. I find stuff and start to read, but like you, I need to have someone grab me quite early in the piece, or I lose interest.
    If Mum and I have had any influence on your reading habits, and especially your ability to express your feelings the way you do, then we claim that guidance without any reservation!!!!
    Much love,

  3. Oooh I remember reading copious amounts of Enid Blyton as a kid too, and Roald Dahl (who my daughter is now a fan of).
    Wasn't into Trixie Beldon but did read through the Hardy boys (I had two brothers and hung around boys a lot, could be why?)

    ADORE Harry Potter!! Read the entire series twice, then out loud to my two eldest kids - they are old enough to read it all themselves but it was so fun to experience it together *bounces*

    Really get into anything by F.Paul Wilson. He's really twisted but I love the way he unravels all the details, really draws you in. His "Repairman Jack" novels are pretty addictive.

    Anyway, I love reading your blogs Mel and finding out all about Sam. I know I've been unforgivably lost for words, but don't ever think I've forgotten all about you. I promise to work on it OK! xx


I love comments!