My friend, Ellen Gregory, listed her 10 most memorable books the other day and it got me thinking about what my list would be. Like Ellen, I could happily have a genre specific list and I could easily have a kid’s books list, or a history books list. I settled on a mixed fiction list:
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – This book is memorable for the way Bradbury takes so many ordinary things and looks at them sideways, to give you a new way of seeing them. Always leaves me with a sense that the world is kind of magical.
Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov – The first (and one of the only) great books about robots in human societies I read. I think it was also the first sci-fi novel I read that used a crime plot, which Asimov used rather well.
Don Juan by Lord Byron – It’s an odd story, but the book is memorable for being both entirely in verse and being the only fiction I’ve ever needed to read with a dictionary beside me.
Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit by Storm Constantine – A book in which a virus effectively wipes out the human race by turning them into a new species (hermaphrodites). There were so many weird and interesting ideas in this story.
Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip – The first adult fantasy novel I discovered that was a pure standalone and not big enough to prop a door open, both of which made me happy. It was also a good read.
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce – A lot of books I read as a child have stayed with me, but this one more than most. (Weirdly though, I have always had trouble remembering the title.) It was the first time-slip story I read and one of the few bitter-sweet books that I’ve ever really loved.
Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – Fantastic creatures, fun and fantastic foods, adventure and a world within the world; this book has it all. It still holds that wonder of being a kid and believing that there is magic everywhere.
Wire by Dick Francis – Memorable for showing how novels can be set within microcosms (in this case the racing industry). It’s also short, fast-paced and engaging.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer – Maybe I read this too recently to really call it ‘memorable’ but I think it will stay with me for the epistolary format, the lovely, lovely characters and the treatment of post WWII Britain.
The Unabridged Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – I don’t remember who edited or published this, as I no longer have the book, but it was my intro to Mr Holmes and Mr Watson, about whom I’m still quite passionate. It’s also memorable for introducing me to the concept of abridging texts, which at age of eight (after I looked up what it meant) totally horrified me. Actually, it still kind of does.