(if you don’t want to read my rather unbrief explanation of how it all got started and want to jump straight to the books, skim down to the emboldened name of Ted Dekker).
I have always, always loved reading. My mum used to read stories to me all the time, it wasn’t just at bed time, and then when I could read by myself, I would read everything and anything, all day long. I don’t have any siblings, and despite having 14 cousins readily available, being on my own reading was preferable to playing at tea parties and climbing trees, except when we went camping that is, then having my own outdoors adventures was far more exciting than just reading about them. I remember early on in primary school, that’d I’d already read the ‘designated yellow books’ that our year and below were supposed to read and I needed more advanced books to keep me interested, so mum went off bless her and bought some for me while I waited for the others to catch up, I don’t mean to come across as bragging in anyway. I’m pretty sure there was a group of us that had reached the level and needed to move up but in those days you just had to wait for everyone to catch up.
When I hit secondary school, the Librarian was really kind when I told her I struggled to read normal print, she didn’t hesitate to find and order in some Large Print books, and that worked out really well. I practically lived in the school Library.
When I left school, I struggled to get books I found interesting in Large Print at my local library, it was pretty much all murder mysteries, which the elderly love apparently, which I found overly predicable, my local library is pretty pathetic with regular books, let alone ‘specialized books’, pretty much every book I wanted to read I had to order in and wait for anything up to a month for it to come in from a bigger city Library, ridiculous, it’s still the case even now, ten years later.
Late teens to early twenties I didn’t really get to read much, because there wasn’t a lot available that was of interest, I really, really missed reading. I missed out on all the books my peers were reading, I didn’t even get to read Harry Potter when it came out. I ended up watching most of the movies before I got to even read a single page. There were audio books out, on cassette tape. But that was arduous, each tape only lasted about an hour and then you’d have to take the tape out and put it back in, I was eternally putting it in upside down or putting it back in on the side I’d just listened too, CDs, were a little easier, but the same problem arose, you’re always taking CDs out and putting them back in, it breaks the story up in a bad way.
In 2009 I signed up to Audible and started listening to audio downloads on my iPod it was like the world had caught up with me, I still think the member fee is a bit high and the books in general are pricey, I realize voice talent and recording isn’t a cheap format but still, a Kindle book can be had for 99p and a paperback for under a tenner, so it can’t be too difficult, more likely a case of greed on the publishing companies part. By August 2009. I had come across Goodreads, which led me on to a whole new world of books and friends, thus begins my epic reading voyage, and one that I’ve never looked back from.
Now I mix my reading up with Kindle books and Audio books, I have a general system. Kindle book if 500 pages and below, £5 or less, unless it’s a special book. if it’s 500+ pages then I generally go to audio because if I’m going to pay more for it, I want it to last longer and audio will last me more years than my poor sight will.
Now on to the part of the post you’ve been waiting for, the books that have changed my life.
Ted Dekker introduced me to the world of Dystopia and I’ve never looked back, it’s an odd choice I grant you but it’s very addictive. I will forever be indebted to my cousin, Felicity, for first talking about Ted Dekker on Facebook, she had just finished reading ‘Green’, the last book in the Circle Trilogy, which is in fact, actually 4 books, and yes, whenever this is brought up in a conversation it always ends up digressing to THGTTG. The Circle series comprises of Black, Red, White and Green. It opened my world to a whole new genre and it’s probably my most read genre, next to Fey and Arthurian Legends. I’ve since read The Lost Books of History series and next up is the Paradise series, followed by all the independent novels he’s written to date. I never would have read The Hunger Games, Bumped, Gone, and various others if I hadn’t of come across Ted Dekker, (I always planned on reading LOTR regardless)
Marion Zimmer Bradley and Tracy Chevalier, got me even deeper into Arthurian Legends and Historical Drama in general, I’ve always been a history fan so this was a natural extension of school history, their fictitious tales steeped in and around historical places and characters never ceases to amaze me. The Forest House is one of my favourites and I read it several times a year. I can’t decide if Fallen Angels or Remarkable Creatures is my favourite from Tracy, all her books are brilliant and interesting, Remarkable Creatures, speaks to me because I’ve been to Lyme Regis and I’m familiar with the places of which she speaks. It’s like coming home, every time you read it. Marion takes you back to the Roman Occupation in Britain and you want to test Latin out on your tongue.
J K Rowling got me into YA in a big way, after reading Harry Potter, I had to read more from the YA genre, it suits me because I feel perpetually 15, I’m in my comfort zone in YA, the shorter books, generally 300-600 pages also suit me, when I’m sight reading, 650+ pages are better to listen to. I don’t like a lot of gritty/horror/thriller/violence stuff that adult books seem to thrive on so it’s just as well, ya gives me everything I want in a book without being too harsh, unless I want to go that far.
Julie Kagawa got me into the land of Fey, I’d been interested in fairy tales as a child but I didn’t think there were books out there for an older audience, that included the Fey so I was ecstatic when I came across Julie! I need to consume every book written by her and track down all other Fey writers, it is my destiny.
Laini Taylor, I will forever be thankful for Angel books, it was my first Angel book, I think.. well no they had Angels in Fallen Angels by Tracy Chevalier but they were of the stone statue, graveyard variety and not living breathing, destroying things type of Angels, I also want to assimilate everything this author writes. I cannot wait for the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I read it and immediately texted my friend to say YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK, LIKE, NOW. When she did read it she was like IT’S AMAZING. I love that I have a great book bond with my friends, we instantly know what each other will like, which is usually the same kind, except Jenn is more into True Blood and Vampires while that just plain creeps me out and truthfully YA Vampires have been over done to the max..
And lastly dear, dear Terry Pratchette, Sci/Fi Fantasy you are amazing, you help me through the day, you make me feel normal in a world that thinks I’m weird and too much outside of the box, I often find myself quoting Twoflower and Rincewind, my favourite character has to be the Luggage, because of reasons. The fact that the audio books are read by the brilliant, super awesome, crush worthy Tony Robinson is totally beside the point, my dream in life is to complete my DiscWorld Audio Book Collection and have them sitting prettily in pride of place on my bookshelf. I’ve always loved sci-fi on the tv. X files, Star Trek Voyager to name but two, but I had never read anything of it until this wonderful man came into my life. I wish I could remember who told me I had to read them.
So those were the authors and books that pointed me in the direction of the genre’s I love.
Now for three special books and authors that changed my life.
90 Minutes of Heaven by Don Piper taught me the importance of prayer how fantastic and powerful a tool it really is, that it’s free, fully customizable, can be done independently or as a group and can give instant relief. Rolling out the Lords prayer at church was just routine, prayers, poems and hymns are great for those every day moments when you get sidetracked, to keep you in check, but for me, nothing beats a real heart felt internal cry out in my own words for the people and issues that matter most to me.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak really cemented my attitude change towards Germans. The war was over long before I came around in the mid 80s but at school we were still brainwashed to distrust and dislike Germans in general, we didn’t go on school trips there and it wasn’t a language option. I knew it was all rubbish but young minds are very impressionable. The Book Thief showed me a new attitude, it portrayed Germans in a completely different light, Germans that hid Jews, that didn’t want to join the Nazi party, Germans that were really the same as us just incredibly unfortunate as to not live far enough away to avoid the consequences when they didn’t fall into line.
Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott and Linda Dawson is my earliest reading memory, I read that book over and over, the illustrations were magical and still play in my mind like a movie, too this day.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is how I went from a girl who couldn’t find anything remotely interesting to read in a accessible format, to landing in a Dystopian world, infested with Angels, Fairies, strange boxes on legs, and historical characters coming back to give advice, while traveling over familiar and unfamiliar terrain and weaving in and out of time.