Earlier today in spring cleaning mode, I came across some sheets of paper on which I had started to list every book I read. The habit has now transferred to a dedicated book for the lists, quotes and so on.
What surprised me most was the number of books I've read which have completely vanished from my consciousness. I decided to start a list of my favourite books. I've always wanted to compile a Top 10 Books list but have never found the patience to sit down and whittle the list down to 10. Tonight though, I made a start by writing down every book I've loved.
The Lord of the Rings-Tolkien
Moon Tiger-Penelope Lively
The Amber Spyglass-Philip Pullman
The Prisoner of Azkaban-J.K. Rowling
I Capture the Castle-Dodie Smith
Cat's Eye-Margaret Atwood
Memoirs of a Geisha-Arthur Golden
The End of the Affair-Graham Greene
To the Lighthouse-Virginia Woolf
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell-Susanna Clarke
The Life of Pi-Yann Martel
An Equal Music-Vikram Seth
The Road-Cormac McCarthy
The Mill on the Floss-George Eliot
The God of Small Things-Arundhati Roy
Never Let Me Go-Kazuo Ishiguro
On the Road-Jack Kerouac
All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
The Wind in the Willows-Kenneth Grahame
Watership Down-Richard Adams
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets-Eva Rice
Rebecca-Daphne du Maurier
All of these books are books which have changed me in some, however small, way or stayed with me...or just infatuated me.
Many of these books were read years ago. Yet I still think of Cassandra swimming in the moat whenever I see Bluebells. At the top of beautiful staircases I think of Sarah saying everything with "you" to Maurice. My desire to visit Japan and see cherry blossoms hasn't faded even though the last page of Memoirs of a Geisha was turned 10 years ago. I have never looked at rabbits the same way since finishing Watership Down and the bucolic idyll of Wind in the Willows has followed me half my life. I still want to be in a heroine in a Penelope Lively novel. Violins and top deck bus journeys are always imbued with a romantic hope. The sheer brilliance and imagination evident in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and The Amber Spyglass still dazzle. Harry conjuring his Petronus is still one of the most powerful scenes I've read. I still plan a pilgrimage to Whitby and want vampires to exist. German soldiers' experiences, British soldiers' experiences all cannot be separated from the same tragic mess. My pen has lain still since my wannabe writer was killed by Lolita. And I'm still waiting for my Faramir...
On second thoughts, maybe I don't need to get down to 10 for the sake of neatness. These books have all contributed to who I am and all deserve a mention.