Not to sound overly new age hippy but it’s my solemn belief that the human existence is a metaphorical house. The bricks and mortar represents the body and physical matters. The furniture and decorations represent our experiences and memories. The bookcases represent the soul.
As a result of this, I believe we all have books that we’d put on the bookcase of our soul, hardbacks and paperbacks that comprise who we are today. Here are seven of mine:
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Why not start with the beginning? The first book I remember falling in love with, even as a mewling infant, was The Gruffalo. For the unblessed amongst you, this wonderful picture book tells the tale of a little mouse who just wants the quiet life, but is forced to talk his way out of several dangerous situations along the way. Its easy rhyme structure and incredible illustrations make it stay in the mind long after you’ve finished reading it. My mum read it to me when I was little and taught me how to read with it. It began my love affair with books and so is easily one of my favourites, even if it does get a snigger of contempt from literary circles.
Best bit: Its moral is that intelligence is a better attribute than being tall and hairy, or so I always thought, as a six foot six, bearded academic.
Why you should read it: It’s only about twenty pages so you’re really not going to miss much of your life, plus it’s wonderfully enchanting and quite beautiful.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
This is one of those series you either love or hate. Famed for his use of monotony as a literary technique, Snicket crafts a darkly enchanting absurdism. I read this when I first started high school and its clever extended metaphor for growing up really spoke to me as a boy on the cusp of hairiness. As well as inspiring me to experiment with different forms of fiction in my own work, it also taught me several life lessons despite its veritably formulaic dilemmas in the earlier books.
Best bit: Well, this website is called Books Rock My World so I’m going to err on the side of caution and go with the book worm, Klaus, who shows that always having your head in a book is surprisingly practical.
Why you should read it: This is a series of books written by a book fan for book fans with enough wondrously complex plots to keep any age group entertained
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Because we all have to find a book in our lives that we utterly detest. Now, before the Brontë fans come to choke me to death with their brooding simpletons and mind numbing plots, let me point out that this was a book I was forced to read. On reflection, I probably would have enjoyed it slightly more had I chosen to read it but, based on my knowledge of the story, I don’t think there are many series of events that would lead me to choosing to do that. I must admit, I did learn many valuable things from reading the book, most of which being things not to do in my own writing. So, thanks for that Brontë.
Best bit: “And far rather would I be condemned to a perpetual dwelling in the infernal regions, than even for one night abide beneath the roof of Wuthering Heights again.” It’s a quote that perfectly fits my feelings towards the book.
Why you should read it: Despite my misgivings, this is a foremost example of gothic fiction and features some of the best tropes of the genre. Plus, people think you’re cultured when you say you’ve read it.
Alex Scarrow’s Time Riders
Oh good golly do I love these books. Every time I pick one up, it almost feels as if I’m returning home from a long journey. The characters are as real as you or me, the plots are clever and well researched, the pseudo-science makes you feel intelligent when you follow it along, the pace is never dropped and the twists are mind-blowing. As a passionate fantasy, science fiction, crime and thriller reading young adult- and a budding writer of all those genres at the time- this series of science fiction, young adult books about criminals, knights and government agents never let me down. I love them and I hope you will too.
Best bit: The Time Riders themselves. They start off as strangers and end up the tightest family imaginable.
Why you should read it: Because this series appeals to readers of all genres and never, never lets you down. If you read them, you will have the time of your life.
Phillip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet
I first started reading Mortal Engines a few years before I got into it. I gave up at first because it just didn’t speak to me. A few years later, having forgotten I’d ever tried it before, I picked it up and finished it in a week. That’s book one.
The following three books are, in my opinion, the three greatest pieces of teen fiction ever published (sorry Shiny Vampires and Boy Wizards). Never fearing to tackle adult themes, always engaging and brilliantly written, these books showcase Reeve as a true visionary, crafting a dystopian apocalypse that feels more vibrant, more welcoming, more intense and more emotionally arresting than our own lives. This series inspired the novels I’m proudest of and taught me so much about the world and people around me.
Best bit: It’s impossible for me to choose just one thing but I do love the names of the various ships in the series. The Combat Wombat for the win!
Why you should read it: There are no convenient plot points *cough* horcruxes *cough* or pathetic love stories *cough* Twilight *cough* and it isn’t the other possible YA story *cough* the Hunger Games/Divergent/the Maze Runner/whatever else it has been republished as. This is teen fiction at its most brutal, most honest, most heartstring tugging and most inventive. Pure literary bliss.
The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
One of my best friends suggested I read this book so I put it on my Christmas list and started reading it a couple of days later. I was anxious at first, because I knew my friend expected me to love it and I’d sacrificed a few other things I wanted in order to receive this book. Oh was that sacrifice worth it. Following the crew of the Wayfarer en route to a wormhole build, the Long Way manages to take everything you could possibly love about science fiction and add heart warming plots, relatable and believable characters and some of the most surprisingly emotional twists going. It is one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read and one that cleared my writer’s block and reinvigorated my passion for reading.
Best bit: Kizzy. You spend the entire book swearing you’ll hunt the writer down if she harms her.
Why you should read it: I could make a very long and very emotional argument but I’ll leave that job to Nikola with https://booksrockmyworld.com/2017/01/25/five-science-fiction-book-recommendations-for-readers-who-dont-like-science-fiction/
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
People often pat me on the shoulder and ask me if I’m alright when I tell them I’m a fan of Stephen King, but I’m there for more than just the horror. Beneath the blood, the guts and the mind bending psychological disturbances, King understands people better than I think any living writer. His dialogue, his observations and his attitude to humanity make him one of my favourite authors and this series is his self admitted masterpiece, his magnum opus. Following a gunslinger across a dystopian wilderness shockingly similar to our own, this book blends romance, science fiction, fantasy and realism to form one of the best epics in modern literature.
Best bit: A boy named Jake says the words, “There are other worlds than these,” and boy is he right. This is a jumping on point for any Stephen King book but is even better reread after exploring his other work; the connections are aplenty.
Why you should read it: Okay, so the main character is a high born prince who takes on the life of a gunslinger voyaging through an apocalyptic dystopia in order to avenge his mother and defeat a reality controlling bad guy who can open portals in alternate universes, but you know what? Roland of Gilead, the last Gunslinger, is completely and utterly relatable. You can’t help but fall in love with him and if that isn’t impressive writing, I don’t know what is.
So there we go, a snapshot of the books that make up my soul. Would you include some of them on your spiritual bookcases? Are you an angry Brontë fan who now wants to push me off a cliff in Yorkshire? What books made you who you are today? I’d love to hear in the comments!