I recently saw a tag on Facebook where people were sharing books which are special or meaningful to them – 7 books, 7 days, no explanation given – just a photo shared of the book cover. I loved this idea and so did the same over on Instagram. The only problem was, I found it so hard to share these books and not talk about why I love them! So here’s a quick run down of some of my favourite books and what they mean to me.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
This will always be my favourite book. Quite simply, I love it. I first fell in love with the 1995 BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice as a six year old, and it was only as a teenager that I finally read the book. The association with the BBC adaption is inevitably wrapped up in my love for the novel. But it’s one of those books that I can just read over and over again and never get bored. I will always find it funny, I will always love the characters, and I will always find new moments, scenes, words and meanings with each reading which keeps me coming back for more.
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
This is another book which I just love and it fills me with such warmth and nostalgia every time I read it. I’ve previously written a whole blog post on my love for this book. Again, the characters and the humour get me every time and it is one of those books which is just provides ultimate comfort.
After You’d Gone, by Maggie O’Farrell
I first read After You’d Gone when I was in sixth form – my English teacher gave me a long list of recommendations and so I took this book out of the school library. It’s a book that I have since reread multiple times over the years. I have to be in the right frame of mind for the story because it is utterly heartbreaking. But it’s also beautifully written, I love the characters and relationships, and I can’t help but go back time and time again. It was my first introduction to Maggie O’Farrell – and this was her debut novel – and I’m so grateful to have been recommended it because she has become one of my favourite authors.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J K Rowling
This is a bit of a cheat – it’s really the whole Harry Potter series that I want to talk about. I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I was about nine years old and, like so many others, I basically grew up with these characters and stories. As the books came out, I was around the same age as Harry and co., and they were a huge part of my childhood (and teenage years). I’ve reread the books numerous times over the years – the last time was in 2016 when I got through the entire series during a two-week holiday – and especially as a child, I just loved being immersed in the world of magic and Hogwarts. The Harry Potter series will always have a place in my heart and whilst I might not reach for them as often nowadays, they will always be a source of comfort.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
I only read Little Women for the first time in 2017, and loved it so much I read it twice. I’d watched the film version from the 1990’s growing up, so I knew the story – and I think I might have read it, or some of it, when I was younger, as it felt familiar when I finally read it properly last year. And I just fell in love with it. It is the kind of classic that I adore – it’s clearly another time, which feels like another world in many ways, but the characters – their lives, interests, emotions, relationships – all feel so real, relatable and present. I know it’s a book I will revisit again and again in years to come.
Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan
There are several Ian McEwan books I could have picked – he’s another of my favourite authors and I’ve read a lot of his work – but Sweet Tooth is one that stands out for me, but is perhaps not as well known (or loved?) as others. Part of my love for this book definitely comes from the Brighton setting – living in Brighton myself I love that I can try to figure out where the characters are and can picture the goings on more vividly. I particularly love the section where one of the characters comes the the University of Sussex campus (which I know well) – I can completely visualise her walk across campus and I often think of this scene when I’m there. As well as the Brighton connection, I also love the way the story is structured and it’s actually a book where knowing how it all ends makes rereading it even more enjoyable!
The Queen and I, by Sue Townsend
It’s been a while since I last read The Queen and I, but it’s a book I’ve read so many times that it feels like I’ve seen a film as I have such a strong memory of what this story looks like to me (does anyone else get this? Where you remember the world and characters as you imagined them whilst reading the book? And those images pop into your head at random?!). I love this book because it’s funny, and fun and lighthearted, and sometimes a bit of silliness is just what you need. It does touch on more serious subject matter – it’s about the royal family being dethroned and ending up living on a council estate, so there are definite comments on society, class, inequality – but the characters are all drawn so vividly, in such an exaggerated way, that it’s just a bundle of fun. It’s one of the few books that can actually make me laugh out loud – and that’s the kind of book I want in my life.