Thursday, 13 August 2009

Great reads

A few days ago I read a post on Fat, Frumpy & Fifty, which I loved. Basically because it was about one of my favourite subjects: books. At the same time it was quite a daunting post. Because would I be able to narrow it down to fifteen? So, after quite some deliberation, I decided I would give it a go.
In no particular order:

The first time I read this book I was still in High School. I had to read nine books for my English class and this was one of them. I didn't get it. I didn't understand it. I thought it was so difficult. In the end I found a Dutch translation and then I finally understood. After that I read it again in English and I've read it many times after that. And if I start it tonight, I would want to finish it tomorrow, just because it's so good!

When I first read this book in Dutch, I cried. It was this sad and joyful story in one and it really got to me. I loved it. Ever since I've been trying to find the English version and last year I finally managed to buy it. I cried again when I read it! Yes, I know it's a children's book, but if it's well written, it doesn't matter.

'Jan en Janneke in Canada' by K. Norel
This is a Dutch children's book I received from Sunday School when I was about nine. It didn't really do much for me then, but when I chucked out a lot of books several years ago, this was one I kept. It's about Jan and Janneke who emigrate to Canada with their parents. Very fitting for a wannabe emigrant I should think!

The first play I ever read. We had to read it in class and everybody would get their turn reading out loud. I never did! I was way ahead, chuckling to myself the whole time. I loved it and I think I must have been one of the few actually understanding it! The teacher must have seen this and never gave me a turn. Thank you..."

One of the first series of books I read when I lived in England. I read the whole series of five and although the fourth part was a hard slug, I did finish them. I've never really read anything else by her, mainly because I felt it would diminish this series.

I never actually read this. I had it read to me by the author himself! He read out the whole trilogy in five parts on tape and I loved it! I have the book as well, but have only ever managed to read the first part myself. I prefer the voices of Douglas Adams! This was also the first book that got me away from the chick-lit books and into the more surreal, sci-fi area.

When I first bought this book about the kidnapping of Jane Eyre from her book by Hades, I could only get halfway. It was so silly and boring. I took it with me on holiday to France though and after I had read all my other books, this was the only one left. I finished it and for good measure read it again from the start. I loved it! As soon as I got back home, I bought the second in the series and loved that as well. You need to know a little bit about English language literature, otherwise, most characters won't make any sense at all. And after rereading the series for the fourth time now, I still manage to find new things!

'Wipneus en Pim' by HG van Wijckmade
This was the first series of books I ever read. Two little men (a prince and his best friend) roam their world and meet all kinds of fantastical people: witches, princesses, fairies. They always come out on top, beating the bad guy. The books were written by a succession of authors and hence the initials always changed. When I was about 13/14 I wrote to the author via the publisher and got a reply! The then author told me, that whenever an author wanted to stop, another would step in, using one of the old initials. He also told me the series was coming to an end and he actually sent me a signed copy of the last book!

Well, anything by Enid Blyton really. I know she churned them out at an incredible speed, but at the same time, her books kept me reading all through my childhood. The adventures of all her characters were very far removed from me, but I think that's the power of a good book: it takes you someplace else! Her three series about boarding schools caused me to want to go to one (my parents refused) and I longed for adventures. I had to be satisfied with reading about them!

I've never been a massive Stephen King fan, not liking horror very much. Also, watching films like Christine gave me the heebiejeebies big time: the music alone caused me to flee the room! So, when I decided I would buy this, I wasn't too sure. What a great book it was though. A little girl lost in the woods, surviving mainly because she talks to Tom Gordon, a baseball player. I would love to see this made into a film, because it could very easily become as spooky as Christine!

This is a film and I saw that first. But then I saw it was based on a novel and bought that. Sometimes a film is a weak reflection of a book, sometimes it's the other way round. In this case, they complimented each other a great deal. There was a bit more in-depth explanation about some of the characters in the book, the film added a visual dimension that didn't diminish your own imaginary images.

The lost recipes of Private Igor is the subtitle to this book, so you can imagine what this cookbook is like. I love cookbooks that are just that bit different. I have never cooked anything from this book, but the dishes in it, remind me so much of the series I love so much. They are real recipes, albeit with silly names like Spam Lamb or Sidney Freedman's Nervous Breakdown Breakfast. Besides the recipes there are quotes from the series and letters from Igor to his mother. Absolutely a must-have for any M*A*S*H-fan who likes to cook.

Any book that can still make me cry after having read it several times already is a good book. This is a good book! Bigamy, two sets of families, Catholicism, shell shock, World War II, Liverpool: they are all in it. It's a saga, but well written and as I said: it makes me cry every time!

I love fairy tales, good triumphs over evil and the guy always gets the girl. My favourite story is Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother, the handsome prince, the glass slipper. How can you not love that?

Another classic and a book I can read again and again. Usually after seeing yet another film or series made after this beautiful book. Reading it now also makes me thankful to Thursday Next (see the Eyre Affair) who changed the ending so beautifully, it would have been a real downer had Jane Eyre gone off with her cousin!

There you have it: my fifteen favourite books. It was hard to pick and choose from all of them and I know I have left some of them out. Some other time perhaps?


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post Mara and it has made me wonder which are my favourites! I may just put my thinking cap on and do a post one day. A x

  2. Glad you ran with this 15 books idea. I, too, loved Fried Green Tomatoes. I also thought after I made my list that I had a few other books that I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of the first time around!

  3. GREAT so glad you joined in!! ISn't it FUN!!
    some great shared choices and a few that are new to me...

    I love this, so thanks again..

  4. Mara, this is such an enjoyable post to read...some of your faves I have read, and some I had not heard of...thanks for sharing these...

  5. I think I'm going to have to add a few to my To Read list. Many of my favourites are on your list. Most notably the work of Douglas Adams. I just adore the way that man's mind worked.

    Have you ever read anything by Terry Pratchett? Quirky like Adams but also quite profound in between bouts of humour.


Any weighty (and not so weighty) comments are welcome!