I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. English was my best subject at school and I loved it (so much so I now study it at university). I’d always be that kid in class who would revel in ‘quiet time’ so I could get on with the next chapter of the book I was reading. Books are the perfect companion: on long journeys, while abroad in the sun or even just when you need consoling at 3am… books are always the thing I go back to…
Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson
The memory is very hazy, but when I was six years old I remember seeing a long line outside the book shop in my local shopping centre and being increasingly intrigued. Myself and my mom waited in line and found out it was a book signing by Jacqueline Wilson to celebrate the release of her new book Secrets, a story of two girls Treasure and India and their unlikely friendship. I remember making sure she spelt my name correctly and was in awe of the amount of rings she had on her fingers. Each chapter is told from the other girl’s perspective through their diary entries, with their very different stories eventually intertwining and being a part of the other. This was the first ‘proper’ novel I ever read, and sparked in me an obsession with Wilson’s novels that lasted for most of my childhood.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
It’s a cliché option, but one that requires inclusion. My cousin Craig gave me both the first and fourth installments of the Harry Potter series when I visited as a kid, and I remember getting stuck into Philosopher’s Stone the minute I got in the car to go home. It is one of my absolute favourite books and I can easily read it in one sitting – I don’t need to tell anyone how addictive and spellbinding (pun intended) the Harry Potter series is, and also sparked one of my best friends at primary school to get into reading after seeing me read my battered copy in Year 3 across the classroom.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Many people will know the film version starring Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield of this Ishiguro novel. I remember seeing trailers for this and being struck, and immediately clicked onto Amazon and ordered it. It did not disappoint. Set in a dystopian Earth where children are brought up to be organ donors, the narrative is gorgeously different and Ishiguro’s style kept me turning page after page. I remember crying throughout and being thoroughly disappointed when it had ended, purely for the fact it was over and I had nothing left to read. A beautifully clever novel.
One Day by David Nicholls
Firstly, this book is addictive. Telling Emma and Dexter’s story by dedicating each chapter to the same day in their lives every year, and how their life has changed year in, year out, it had me hooked. I read this while on a school trip to Valencia in Year 10 and remember being unable to put it down – I eventually had to ration myself to just one chapter a night so I’d actually get some sleep! David Nicholl’s style of writing is compelling, and in this he writes a love story that makes your heart ache so much; you wish you could delve into the pages and shake Dexter for his drunken behaviour, tell Emma to believe in herself more. His characters are rich and memorable, making it a novel that has stayed with me years after reading it.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Recommended by a friend, I finally gave in and borrowed Eleanor and Park from my local library. I expected typical clichés and a predictable story… I was proven wrong several times. I’m a sucker for unlikely romances, and this novel is perfect in that sense. Telling the story of outcasts Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan in an American high school in the 80s, the narrative includes pop culture and a captivating plot-line that had me unable to stop reading it – I finished it in a single day, it was just that good. It made me a cry a lot, and if a book can bring out emotion in me like that, I’d say it has done its job.
Words by Kirstie Sutherland
[Originally posted on The Indiependent]