It’s been a while since I posted anything other than the writing challenges so on the subject of literature, I thought I’d share my top ten books with you. There’s no particular order but they should all be on your Christmas list and if you’ve read them, go read them again.
10. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
This is the first in the Inkheart Trilogy about Meg, a young girl and her book mending father. When she discovers the reason that her father never reads out loud to her, her whole world changes and characters begin to come to life. There are silvertongues, fire jugglers, bad guys, good guys, writers, and a rather prim aunt.
“Perhaps there’s another, much larger story behind the printed one, a story that changes just as our own world does. And the letters on the page tell us only as much as we’d see peering through a keyhole. Perhaps the story in the book is just the lid on a pan: It always stays the same, but underneath there’s a whole world that goes on – developing and changing like our own world.”
9. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
There’s not a lot that I can say about this little gem other than the fact that it remains one of my favourites all of these years later. And that I still don’t know why a raven is like a writing desk.
“Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.”
8. The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
My favourite of the Narnia series although I liked the Magician’s Nephew and The Silver Chair. The series as a whole is underrated.
“Do not dare not to dare.”
7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The first time I tried to read it I hated it. It was so boring and I had no idea what was going on. Now I believe that it deserves its place as a classic.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
6. Journey to the River Sea – Eva Ibbotson
A beautiful book about finding where you belong. It also features a governess with a broken umbrella, orphans, runaway actors, alligators, giant sloths, sloppy puddings, and a threat from distant England…
“But Maia fell in love with the Amazon. It happens. The place was for her – and the people. Of course there was some danger, but there is danger everywhere.”
5. Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo
This one is by Morpurgo so of course it’s a heartbreaker. It’s also one of the most beautiful books you will ever read. Scary old women get away with so much…
“The whole day had been like a bad dream that had turned suddenly and intensely intriguing—a dream he wanted to cling to.”
4. Goose Girl – Shannon Hale
Based on a story by the Grimm Brothers, this one has princesses, mutiny, faraway kingdoms, murder, and (of course) a few geese.
“Right now I’d like all my troubles to stand in front of me in a straight line, and one by one I’d give each a black eye. ”
3. I, Coriander – Sally Gardner
Absolutely beautiful blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Prepare yourself for silver slippers, mysterious disappearances, a locked chest, a magic fox, an evil witch, a secret shadow, a very brave step sister and a stuffed alligator…
“Honestly, I had no idea that the heart could cause such trouble and strife. It could be broken and still mend. It could be wounded and still heal. It could be given away still returned, lost and found. It could do all that and still you lived, though according to some, only just.”
2. Beyond the Deepwoods – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
It’s not so much magic as alternative rules to physics. Stones can float, ground up lightning can purify water and woodtrolls never ever leave the path. Who knew that there were so many kinds of trolls? Or that there were man-eating trees and that Slaughterers are in fact harmless but wig-wigs are not? As for Banderbears, sadly they have not yet been discovered in our world. And the best news yet is that this is one of an entire series. Although it was written by Paul Stewart, I’ve included Chris Riddell because you can’t separate the writing from the fantastic illustrations. And just because it is such an amazing book, here is another picture, this time of the main character, Twig. On a banderbear. Running away from the wig-wigs. It should be a classic.
1. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
A literary masterpiece before it was cool but also one of those books that you understand or you don’t. If you don’t get it, you tend not to like it. I wasn’t sure about the narrator at first but I warmed to him. It’s just a standard story line but it is the way that a story is told that makes you want to keep it close and never let it go.
The film was really good too. It was a difficult thing to translate to screen but they did it brilliantly. My favourite scene though is the one in which Max has imaginary fist fights in the cellar with Hitler which sadly didn’t turn up in the film. Never mind, there’s no time for everything.
“Even death has a heart.”