15 books in 15 minutes

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I love to read. In fact, I have discovered that my desire to write is affected greatly by whether or not I am reading regularly. When I read less, because I am too busy to carve out the time, I write less. When I make time to read – and I read diversely – I find that creative impulses kick in more frequently. I even write stuff in the middle of the night, if that is when inspiration strikes (like last night).

This meme, as with many of the others I have done, comes from Charlotte, whose humor and insight also inspire me.

The task: Name 15 books that ‘stick’ with me – in 15 minutes. Okay, so this took me 45 minutes (sorry Charlotte).

IT by Stephen King Truly the most terrifying book I have ever picked up. I could only read it in daylight, because it scared me so thoroughly. This proved difficult, because it is so long, and I never wanted to put it down. Dusk would come, however, and I had to close the pages so Pennywise the Clown would not get me.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte I read this for class at university, and I fell in love with simple Jane, and her classic Byronic hero, Rochester. I learned that ‘classics’ are deemed such for a reason. Heart-achingly told, and timeless.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull A travel biography about an Aussie girl living in Paris with a Frenchman she fell in love with while traveling. Hilarious episodes underpinned by a sense of ‘otherness’, homesickness and doubt. Striking parallels to my own life, and validation that my writing style is commercially viable.

Dracula by Bram Stoker I am drawn mostly to the love story in this novel. I also love the Gothic genre, and this book laid a foundation for future reading, such as Anne Rice.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous Nikki Gemmell was revealed as the writer of this ‘stream of consciousness’ novel. As a reader you wonder how she crawled into your brain to extract your thoughts. She speaks dark and private truths, the things that you would NEVER say aloud.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold A young girl is murdered and watches helplessly from heaven as her family struggle to survive their loss, and the killer walks freely amongst her family and friends. The concept is innovative, but it is Sebold’s skill with words that makes it an extraordinary read.

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell And so began my love affair with intelligent crime fiction, and with Kay Scarpetta. I was riveted, and because I came late to the party I was able to read 6 or 7 in quick succession. The last was a disappointment, however.

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons I was given this book and it sat on my bookshelf for over a year. It is fat and I was daunted by it. I labored through the first hundred pages, and then I was carried away into Russia during WWII. Epic.

The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan A picture book. White rabbits invade a land inhabited by bandicoots. The text is sparse and the drawings are so evocative, they bring tears to my eyes.

The Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman This was a television series, but I enjoyed the book more. They ride their motorcycles from London to London (essentially). Intriguing stuff. Importantly, it inspires me to ‘get out there and get grubby’.

Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews My friends and I devoured these books throughout adolescence. Chaste schoolgirls lived vicariously through the sexual awakening of Cathy and Chris, siblings whose love was forbidden. A modern-day Gothic novel, with many bosoms heaving – inside and outside the book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling My favorite of the lot. I still don’t understand the end of the last one. Perhaps the movie will shed some light.

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding I read this at 15 and my perception shifted (perhaps not for the better). I realized that there are innate traits in us that will want to rise to the surface, and that it is our job (in life) to keep them subdued. That’s pretty heady stuff for a 15 year old.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger This is my favorite book. The writing is tough, poignant and real. Up front you have to accept that time travel is a genetic anomaly, and beyond that everything else is ‘truth’. Beautifully written, brilliantly imagined.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak I finished this book and said, “That is the best book I have ever read.” And it is. Niffeneger is still my favorite, but The Book Thief is innovative, engaging, and gut-wrenching. Could not put it down, so finished it in about four days.

Tag! Your turn…

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