Sunday, 25 November 2012

Books that silently follow you....

The love of books
A colleague's Facebook status made me stop and think. They had been to see a play and they were saying how good it was it had been silently following her several days afterwards. How many times can you think of books that have done that to you? You finish reading them but yet several days later they still come back to haunt you - in a good way. They make you ask questions of yourself and your surroundings perhaps. Or have just wrapped their metaphoric arms around you making you feel warm and wonderful.

Lots of books used to do that to me when I was a child. I was an avid reader. I used to love escaping into their worlds and then creating my own. Books like Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes was one, Nina Bawden's Carrie's War, K.M.Peyton's Fly-by-night, Philippa Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden and, of course, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, all had that sort of impact. And even now if I go back to them I can get that same feeling of being at home and being thrilled by the story as they silently follow me still decades later.

As you get older it seems that not quite so many books have that impact and silently follow you. I have read many, many books over the last few years as part of my academic career. Some books have left me cold (and probably unfinished) and others I have enjoyed but they haven't stayed with me. Some books have stuck out though, books like: Louis Sachar's Holes, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Once by Morris Gleitzman, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses, Meg Rosoff's How I live now, Tabitha Suzuma's A note of madness.and Sophia Bennett's The Look. This is not an exclusive list but they were the ones that first came to mind. I have just started reading David Massey's Torn and I get the feeling that is going to be another book that silently follows me.  

To a certain extent that is the disadvantage of leading an academic career. I can read so many books that even though they may be fantastic and do live with me silently for a few days they don't stick in the mind. I think it is T.S Eliot who said every time something new is written all the authors and writing beforehand have to shift along a bit to make room, it sounds like a huge bookshelf to me and it is something I find when I am having to read so much. Some things must inevitably fall off that metaphorical book shelf. I just need to remember to go and pick them up again and put them back on the shelf, ready to be read at a later date.

What are the books that follow you silently?

Seems appropriate to listen to Simon & Garfunkel's 'Sound of Silence' for all those books that follow you silently and, with regard to my previous post, allowing your brain to be silent so you can listen to the answers. I was lucky enough to see them perform back in the early 80s.

11 comments:

  1. Great post, I love the idea of the ever expanding bookshelf. For me it's Anne of Green Gables, Goodnight Mister Tom, Jane Eyre, Tess, The Great Gatsby, Room, Pigeon English, and Joyce Carol Oates' Secret Observations on the Goat Girl. And many more! There are some books you are just meant to find.

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    1. Oh yes I love a lot of those too. I had to be very strong not to just do a long list of books that could have gone on forever. There was a wonderful collection of poetry I was given as a child by my eldest sister that had a great impact and gave me a love of poetry. Just wish I could remember what it was called. I can see the cover though!

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  2. Oh I love this post! For me it's Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse,and Linnets and Valerians, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, Sarah Dessen's The Truth about Forever, Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, Emile Zola's Earth, Kafka's The Castle, Carlos Ruiz Zafon The Shadow of the Wind, John Banville Dr Copernicus, and Beechwood, Paulo Coelho The Alchemist, Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, Jung Chang's Wild Swans - to name just a few! and not to met all the non fiction!

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    1. OMG I had forgotten The Little White Horse, The Shadow of the Window, The Alchemist and Wild Swans...oh and of course Chocolat, I Capture the Castle, and On the Road....I am sure more and more are going to come to me. It has been like opening a box and finding all those books again that had fallen off my shelf. Thank you

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  3. Oh, yes The Little White Horse! Also Stig of the Dump. Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Recently, Ben Aaronovitch's London books, Garth Nix's Sabriel series, Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas (even though it's a storyless story). Oh and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books of course. Yes, Carlos Ruiz Zafon as well. What a fine post this is, Ness! x

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    1. Thank you Sue, am glad you enjoyed the post and so pleased to see you on Saturday. Yes of course, Stig of the Dump, how could I forget that. I am so missing so many books!

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  4. So many of my favourite's already listed and I could add dozens more: Watership Down, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Dune, Brave New World, 1984, Tess, without coming close to up to date - but I wanted to mention the books of friends - those unpublished novels or segments that stay in your head for ever - Nicky Schmidt, you did that, and my friend Angie Cottle who write one book that astounded me and then put it away in a draw after one rejection...

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    1. I agree, the work of so many friends should be in this list but also I could add assignments from some of my students just linger for all the right reasons.

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  5. You can have that free apostrophe ...

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  6. The Book Thief for me, too (We studied it in Advanced Fictional Writing)!

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