Reading has been my passion as long as I can remember. I have come a long way from the child reading by torchlight under the covers in the dead of night, turning each page ever so quietly so I wouldn’t be caught out. These days, at thirty years old, I have a whole room dedicated to my books, numerous cozy reading corners in my home and I can stay up reading as long as I like. My surroundings may have changed but the feelings of wonder and the yearning for adventure remains the same. Here are five books fom my childhood that impacted my life.
- Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling
I know the Harry Potter series comes with its controversies at the moment but it wouldnt feel right not to include it in this list.
I remember very vividly being in Year 4 and The Philosophers Stone being our carpet time book at the end of each school day. I was horrified when I got called out of class for a bloody recorder lesson and went home to beg my Mum for my own copy of the book. I remember walking down the high street with her that weekend to our local Ottakars (all the nostalgia vibes) and practically trembling with excitement as I finally held it in my hands, refusing to put it down until I had devoured each page before immediately starting it again.
So began a lifelong love, possibly bordering on obsession, for the series. Harry, Ron and Hermione were the only friends I cared about and my crappy reality was made easier by stepping into my magical alternate life every chance I got. I couldn’t count how many times I read those books and for the last twenty years they have been my constant. No matter where I move to or what happens in my life, The Harry Potter world will always be home.
I love all of the books immensely and each in different ways, but The Goblet of Fire has always been my favourite.
2. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
I know these first two are both obvious choices, but there really is a reason they have impacted on so many young lives around the world and I feel so lucky to be just one of them.
Once again I have very clear memories of my first time reading The Hobbit. I was around 8 years old and I was so absorbed in the story that I would read it any spare moment. Even during break times and whilst eating my lunch at school (no i didnt have any friends). We had those long dinner tables with the stools attached that they would pack up after we had eaten. The Dinnerladies would yell at me to get a move on but unfortunately I was completely oblivious and my lunch usually went uneaten. I was far too busy adventuring through The Shire, battling trolls, solving riddles, slaying giant spiders and barreling down waterfalls.
Bilbo Baggins is one of my all time favourite fictional characters, So much so, I now have my own little Hobbit dog named in his honour.
3. The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
As an adult I love to read stories with intricate world building, complex magic systems, descriptive prose and morally grey characters. As a child i wished for nothing more than to simply climb a tree with my pal Moonface and visit a different magical land each day. The Lands of Do-As-You-Please, Take-What-You-Want and The Land of The Old Saucepan Man being particular favourites.
Childhood to me is summed up by these books. Enchanted Woods with trees that whisper secrets, Adventuring to magical lands high above the swirling clouds, Avoiding dirty washing water from Dame Washalot and befriending beautiful Fairies and Pixies. They are the epitome of the joy, magic and innocence that all children are made of.
4. The Bed and Breakfast Star – Jacqueline Wilson
Really I couldnt possibly pick a favourite Jacqueline Wilson book. They were an incredibly important part of my growing up and I believe my tween years would have been even tougher had I not had them to guide me through.
The Illustrated Mum taught me about mental health before I even knew what those two little words meant. Not only for the one whose mind was effected, but the impact it has on the families of those suffering. Vicky Angel took me on a horrible, messy journey of grief and the unexpected feelings that it stirs up. It explored how to accept those feelings and to eventually, be able to move on. The Girls in Love series was an early lesson in what it is to be a female. I learnt vital lessons about friendship, self acceptance and the dangers of comparing yourself to those around you.
The Bed and Breakfast star is one that has always stayed with me because I found the protagonist, Elsa, so very inspiring. Her life was pretty damn bleak, neglected by her family and bullied by her peers but she always stayed true to her self and found positives in every terrible situation she ended up in.
5. Tiger Eyes
Judy Blume was another favourite author of mine during my early, angsty teens. Tiger Eyes had a big impact. It tells the story of Davey, a lonely and heartbroken fifteen year old whose father is shot dead. Her mother moves the family out to New Mexico and so begins a journey of soul searching and self discovery.
The main thing I remember about this book was the beautiful setting. Davey spends alot of time exploring these incredible, expansive canyons with her friend/ love interest, Wolf. I see now how metaphorical those canyons were in terms of Daveys exploration of grief but to ten year old me who had lived on a small Island my whole life and never visited another country they seemed magnificently intimidating.
Did you read any of these as a child? What books did you read when you were younger that have impacted your life?