Monday, 8 September 2014

Ten Books of Yesteryear

Over on that scourge of social media a friend challenged me to name 10 books from my youth of some significance – or words to that effect. It’s amazing, the second I’m asked that the first thing is I can’t remember any. But with a little coaxing the mist cleared slightly and out came some jumbled thoughts. Here I explain why I picked the titles I did, but I’ve not mentioned very much regarding content of these stories.  

Ten books that have stuck in my mind for one reason or the other. In no particular order, the books that have survived the memory wipe to be recalled here are:

My first book review

The Secret of Moon Castle
By Enid Blyton
This appears to be part of a series that I never knew at the time. I think the combination of the words Moon Castle must have been the trigger for me. I have a some memories of this, particularly an L shaped room. The book itself by the time I no longer owned it was falling appart, I do remember that.

Interestingly I just looked this up on Wikipedia, it states it is part of a series of 5 books then goes on to list 6 titles in the series. Certainly was a mysterious series of books.

Doctor Who and the Cybermen
By Gerry Davis
I've limited myself to just two Doctor Who titles in this list, and I've a different reason for selecting the two I have done. This was one of the first Doctor Who novelizations I owned and in the end I actually knew the backcover blurb off by heart. One day our school library obtained three Doctor Who titles, this being one of them. A mate and I stunned the school's librarian by performing a 'mind reading' act where as he read the back cover in front of her, with my back turned I recited what it was they were looking at.

The Belgariad (series)
By David Eddings
One of my first forays into sets of fantasy fiction. This epic series set me on my path for fantasy.

Silly Verses for Kids
By Spike Milligan
There is no way I could leave this book off the list. My copy had the orange cover, I've seen it online with a blue one since. It was just bonkers, and so many of them stuck in my mind to the extent that it doesn't take much to set me off quoting it even today. 'String is a very important thing...'

Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock
By Terrance Dicks
My second Doctor Who of this list. TV series and novel both by Terrance Dicks and the edition that stands out for me is the original with art work by Jeff Cummins. I remember reading a library copy of this whilst off sick from school. It was hard going, since all my body wanted to do was sleep, but I wanted to read it. I remember the GP calling back round to see how I was a couple of days after his first visit even now, but I had no memory of his first visit even then.

I could quite so easily have filled this list with Doctor Who books, but I made sure I allowed other titles to get a look in. I had to include a Terrance Dicks since he wrote so many of the Doctor Who novels and it really was these books that made the young me want to read. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Terrance at several Doctor Who conventions and having the opportunity of thanking him for these books that got me enthusiastic about reading which has had a massive impact on me.  I’ve also got several prints of the covers from artist Jeff Cummins who also attends these events and every time I see this artwork it gives me a buzz and happy memories.

The Servants of Ark (trilogy)
By Jonathan Wylie
Another collection of fantasy and prophecy that caught me and I remember reading quite obsessively.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
By C.S. Lewis
I first encountered the wonderful world of Narnia during story time at school. Could even have been the start of my love of fantasy. Enough said...

Fantastic Mr Fox
By Roald Dahl
This book is as old as I am. Although the edition I had was from the Puffin print a few years later. We had the Puffin book club at school where parents were encouraged to buy books from a small leaflet which we brought home every few months. I think that was where my Spike Milligan Silly Verses also came from. There were a few Roald Dahl books, I also have fond memories of 'The Magic Finger' as well.

Twentieth-Century Short Stories
By various authors
The Machine Stops, by E.M. Forster, Odour of Chrysanthemums by D.H Lawrence. The Destructors by Graham Greene and The Lumber Room by Saki are the stories I recall in this collection which was part of our 'O' Level English course. There was beauty in the bleakness that Lawrence wrote, but just do not get me started on the farce that was our English Literature class. That is another story in itself.

Another point to mention, was that my next-door neighbor also grew Chrysanthemums and so as I child I knew their scent every year when they bloomed.

Ninety-Nine Dragons
By Barbara Sleigh
A young boy goes to bed, but rather than count sheep he counts dragons. Just my sort of thing and something I could imagine doing on those summer nights during the summer holidays as a child when I couldn't get to sleep.



At the end of the assignment I’m supposed to nominate other friends to do the same. But I’m challenging you my reader, if you made it this far try for yourself to think over those books that have some significance to you.