15 books meme

Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it, and list 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

  1. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  3. Witch Baby by Francesca Lia Block
  4. 1984 by Orson Welles
  5. Soon I Will be Invincible by Austin Grossman
  6. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  7. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
  8. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  9. Juniper by Gene Kemp
  10. On Writing by Stephen King
  11. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  12. Alias vol 4 by Brian Michael Bendis
  13. The Curse of the Blue Tattoo by L A Meyer
  14. American Girl 2: Ready or not by Meg Cabot
  15. Neuromancer by William Gibson

Lots of books from my childhood there, especially Juniper which is a strange little modern mystery and full of ordinary tragedies. I read it over and over and over as a child trying to work out the meanings of the dream sequences and when the lead character figured out what was going on. I didn’t repeat any authors although Meg Cabot and Neil Gaiman have certainly written more than one book that will always stick with me. I chose Curse of the Blue Tattoo as representative of the whole Bloody Jack saga as that’s my favourite one and scenes from it stick in my head.

1984 is there because of the horror. The weird images and confusion and the beautiful language all culminating in such horror. I’d kind of like to scrub my head clean of that book altogether but no, it will stay with me. I enjoyed Neuromancer a lot more but it’s on this list for much the same reason. I can recall with clarity the image of the cracked open wasp nest and stuff about Molly Millions.

Witch Baby made me feel, well, not accepted so much as understood. Its such a beautiful, lyrical exploration of how it feels to be an awkward teenager. To feel like you don’t belong where you live or with your family, no matter how they try to love you. I cry each and every single time I read it.

I put in Alias vol 4 because that’s the origin story of Jessica Jones combined with the story of why she gave up being a superhero. It’s powerful, dark stuff but absolutely wonderfully told. I love the rest of the series as well but this is the one that really resonated. Plus my copy is signed by the author. Woo.

Anyway, an interesting exercise. If you want to try it out, feel free to use the comments here or link back from your own blog. It’s fascinating as an author to think about the books that have ‘shaped’ you.

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7 thoughts on “15 books meme

  1. Tried not to see yours before doing mine – recency and all that. Not in order of significance. 15 most memorable.

    1. Marabou Stork Nightmares – Irvine Welsh – one of the most disturbing books I’ve read. Can’t bear the thought of re-reading it. Love the author, which makes it extra hard.
    2. The Narnia books – CS Lewis (counting them as one book) – abiding love for the series, even with its christian overtones.
    3. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer – a heroine who is more independent than was socially acceptable :). I so admired her.
    4. The Secret Life of Insects – Victor Pelevin – dreamlike logic that made the subjects human and insect at the same time.
    5. Handling the Undead – John Ajvide-Lindqvist – the best and most real take on the “dead rising” trope that I’ve ever seen. Affecting.
    6. The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham – read when fairly young. A weak foe can be overwhelming when people are weakened themselves, and also a look at different methods of survival and degrees of altruism.
    7. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. My first introduction to Gaiman, and as I knew Pratchett pretty well, it was fascinating to see one author temper another.
    8. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Stephen Donaldson – read young enough that the idea of such a flawed protagonist was kinda shocking. One of his first acts is rape, and he’s supposed to be the hero? An introduction to significant moral ambiguity.
    9. Various Gor books – can’t remember the author – ridiculous. Seemed like reasonable porn to an adolescent, though. But still, *ridiculous*.
    10. Magician – Raymond E Feist, I think? – put me off High Fantasy just about for good. So. Dull.
    11. Grendel series – Matt Wagner – again with the antihero. First not-for-kids comics I’d read.
    12. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – Fascinating, disturbing, and plausible. Also fell in love with the author, and am still exploring her work.
    13. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson – a twist that was rather effective at demonstrating cultural relativism. Who defines a monster?
    14. Lord of the Flies – William Golding – civilisation as a thin veneer. Scary concept for a well-behaved kid :).
    15. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – I’d read Xenocide YEARS before EG, and the two were so different… Xenocide was full of technical concepts and ethical considerations, and Ender’s Game was stripped down, relatively simple, and a clean, awesome read. I liked Xenocide, but it was strange to see an author change a world so much. Like Pitch Black vs Chronicles of Riddick, only not crap :).

  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
    Possession by A S Byatt
    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
    Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    Leave it to Psmith by P G Wodehouse
    Charlotte’s Web by E B White
    Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers
    A Town like Alice by Nevil Shute
    A Passage to India by E M Forster

    I likewise did mine quickly without reading others first but now I’m spotting ones other people have listed and feel ‘oh yeah, I should have put that one’.

    Very interesting exercise. For me I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, nearly of all of them were ones I read as a teenager. There are a couple I read as a kid, a couple from when I was at uni and only one from my twenties. Secondly, the books that first came to mind tend to be the first book I’d read of a particular author, not necessarily my favourite. I guess the book where you first fall in love the author (as Rachel put it so well) stay with you, even if you then later come across other books of theirs that you like better.

  3. Hmmm, first attempt at posting a comment failed, eh? I shall try again:

    1. Breakfast of Champions
    2. Neverness
    3. Great and Secret Show
    4. The Stand
    5. Dragonlance Chronicles
    6. Naked Lunch
    7. Firedrake
    8. The Tripods
    9. Fight Club
    10. A Farewell to Arms
    11. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    12. If On a Winter’s Night
    13. The Illuminatus Trilogy
    14. The Historical Illuminatus Trilogy
    15. Good Omens

  4. 1 Dragon Warriors (RPG book, not a novel) – David Morris and Oliver Johnson
    3 Dune – Frank Herbert
    3 Enders Game – Orson Scott Card
    4 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
    5 Daughter of the Empire – Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts

    6 I Robot – Issac Asimov
    7 A Game of Thrones – GRR Martin
    8 Main Event – Jim D Long
    9 Gameplayers by Stephen Bowkett
    10 The Falcon’s Malteser – Anthony Horowitz

    11 Nightwatch – Terry Pratchett
    12 Mercenary (Book 2 of Bio of a Space Tyrant) – Piers Anthony
    13 The Walrus and the Warwolf (best stand-alone book of Chronicles of the Age of Darkness) – David Cook
    14 Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
    15 Harry Potter Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter Book 4) – JK Rowling

  5. Looking at the lists, they’re mostly fiction. I was wondering if that is more the nature of literature, or the selection of people responding. Probably mostly to do with stories.

  6. I just read way more fiction I think. I have read some extremely good Non-fic but it’s rare. The story thing is good too.

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