No, not a reference to the 1970’s Hawaiian cop show of dubious brilliance but to a delightful book themed meme that has been passed onto me by the glorious Gina at Reluctant Blogger.
In order to appease the meme gods I have to:
1. List three books I’ve always meant to read, but have never got around to reading.
2. Share the two books that changed my life.
3. Recommend the one book I’ve been talking about since the very first day that I read it.
So here goes:
Three books I’ve always meant to read but have never got round to reading.
1) Rookwood by Harrison Ainsworth – the story of Dick Turpin’s legendary ride to York on Black Bess. And I have utterly no excuse for not reading this having managed to locate and purchase a nice hardback copy of it last year. It’s sitting on my bookshelf regarding me with a reproachful eye. In my defence I’ve been up to the gizzard in University reading for the last few years so my opportunities to read for pleasure are few.
2) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – despite my many literary leanings there are huge gaps in my reading and Evelyn Waugh is one of them. However, I’m hoping to add this particular novel to my list of “books read” pretty soon as Karen and I have just watched the entire series (Jeremy Irons / Anthony Andrews) on DVD. I’d never seen it before - though Karen had beloved memories of it from when it was first broadcast – so it was something of a revelation to me. I absolutely loved it and I’m amazed at how much it’s impinged on my psyche. Wonderfully, gently tragic, wistful and gritty all at the same time. I absolutely must read the book now. I bloody must.
3) 1984 by George Orwell – seminal work, blah blah blah, major influence, cough cough cough, essential reading, etc etc etc. I just feel that I ought to read this book before I die (perhaps that’s why I’m leaving it to the last minute?) and again I have no excuse as we have a copy knocking about the house. If it’s any consolation I’ve read The Road To Wigan Pier...
The two books that have changed my life.
1) The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox – Not sure if it’s changed my life but it is certainly one of my most favourite novels. It’s a beautiful story without being at all mawkish. One night a French vintner, drunk on wine literally stumbles upon a statue of an angel in his vineyard... but the angel catches him and promises to return on the same night for every year of the vintner’s life to see how he is. Words like gorgeous and sumptuous are bubbling up in my mouth but none do this novel justice. It moved me greatly and I never want to be without a copy.
2) Anything by Angela Carter – and by anything I mean anything as opposed to “Anything”. I first discovered Angela Carter in my early twenties and her work blew my mind wide open. Her style of writing, I’ll admit, doesn’t suit everybody – it’s dense and deliberately wordy – but I love it. Her stories are heavily crafted fairy tales that are ripped apart, the truth in them dusted off and shaken out and then stuffed back inside the barely cooling carcass before electric shock treatment brings it all back to life again. Immensely satisfying and frequently shocking, both magical and dirtily earthy the energy in her novels is impossible to pin down. Films such as The Company of Wolves and The Magic Toyshop all owe their existence to Angela Carter. I have a book shelf full of her entire output.
Recommend the one book I’ve been talking about since the very first day that I read it.
This is a toughie and I don’t think I could limit it to one book. The Vintner’s Luck I would recommend to anybody. Likewise The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. All wonderful, beautiful novels that will totally immerse you in lives that seem much bigger than your own. But recommending books is like recommending holidays... it rarely works. One man’s beer is another man’s poison or something. It’s just important to find your own special book. A book that speaks to you is a very, very precious thing indeed.