10 Books that have stayed with me

My sister tagged me in one of these FB posts and it’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Now the Boozle is bigger I actually have more time to read and have been thinking wistfully about the 2 boxes of books that were stashed in the Moogs Garage before I left the UK. Maybe on my potential trip I can finally get them sent to me.


1) The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood – Probably a bit of a cheat as it’s a trilogy, but I can’t narrow it down to just one of the 3. I was given the first book, Duncton Wood, to try and read by my dad when I was about 10 and it was definitely too advanced for me. I finally read it when I was 12 and then gobbled up the other 2 Duncton Quest and Duncton Found. It’s so hard to describe these books because they are about everything, Love, hate, faith, dogma, depair and hope. It does get a little bit overly allegorical in places but the characters are so complex you get fully drawn in and I will admit to having to put the book down every single time I read the scene where Bailey returns to Duncton and his father Spindle sees him one last time before he dies. Oh did I mention that the books are about moles.

“Bracken was born on an April night in a warm dark burrow deep in the historic system of Duncton Wood, six moleyears after Rebecca. This is the story of their love, and their epic struggle to find it”
– Duncton Wood

2) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
– Another book about everything. I think I responded to this book the way I did because it’s main themes are friendship, loneliness, loss and I definitely struggled with these as a kid being dragged from town to town and school to school.

“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye”
– The Little Prince


3) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis – I’m fairly certain this is the last of the allegorical books on the list. Though reading it as a kid I didn’t see the Aslan as Christ stuff, I saw a fabulous fairytale with good triumphing over evil. And I still secretly check out wardrobes – you know, just to make sure.

“though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards” – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

4) The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – It’s a sci-fi romance and SO much better than that description sounds.

It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays – The Time Travelers wife


5) Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman – When I first read this I didn’t realize it was the novelisation of the BBC series. In fact I had not heard of the series until I read Peter Capaldi played the Angel Islington in it. It’s a “How did I get here” fish out of water story. I love the idea of a weird twisted London Below and having used the Tube quite a lot I have a sneaking suspicion it might actually be based on a true story.

He had gone beyond the world of metaphor and simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him
– Neverwhere

lost souls

6) Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite – Modern gothic vampire story, with the emphasis more on gothic than modern. These vampires don’t have angst and certainly don’t sparkle. Poppy Z Brite is one of those authors who writes in such a way that you can taste his words. This story is a clove cigarette, strawberry wine flavor which just isn’t enough to hide the foetid, metallic tang of blood underneath. It’s the story of a little boy lost who finds his family. (this one was a toss up with Drawing Blood his second novel set in the same town but lacking vampires)

I believe in whatever gets you through the night. The night is the hardest time to be alive and 4am knows all my secrets
– Lost Souls

Memoirs of a Geisha

7) Memoirs of a Geisha by William Golding – Just a beautiful evocation of an exotic time and place. I’ve read a lot of Geisha books both fictional and factual and this is the one that lingers. The glamour and romance of Sayuri’s story make this an unputdownable read.

“We don’t become geisha because we want our lives to be happy; we become geisha because we have no choice”
– Memoirs of a Geisha


8) Soul Music by Terry Pratchett – This was my first Discworld novel. I only picked it up because the cover looked kind of cool and I was picking books from the Haverhill Library, which really didn;t have a huge selection. I actually picked quite a good one to start with, because if I’d read Colour of Magic first I probably wouldn’t have tried any other Discworld books. This one introduces Rock and roll music into the magic and vaguely medieval Discworld.

“Certain things have to happen before other things. Gods play games with the fates of men. But first they have to get all the pieces on the board, and look all over the place for the dice”
– Soul Music

9) The Witches by Roald Dahl – Almost impossible to narrow down the Dahl to just one. His books and this one in particular are just a huge part of my childhood. The fantastically evil witches with their plans to turn every child in the world into a mouse foiled by a brave boy and his witchophile Grandmother.

“I simply cannot tell you how awful they were, and somehow the whole sight was made more grotesque because underneath those frightful scabby bald heads, the bodies were dressed in fashionable and rather pretty clothes. It was monstrous. It was unnatural”- The Witches

10) Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg – I think this was actually my sisters book. It’s like a very easy proto-Where’s Wally (which was published the following year) Each page has a rhyming couplet with a matching picture where you can find the hidden named character. Obviously this book has stuck with me because I can still recite the whole thing. Even though I haven’t read it for over 25 years. It’s on my list of books to buy for the boozle in England.

Honourable mentions for some other Discworld books, the rest of the Narnia Chronicles, The book of Silence trilogy (Duncton tales, Duncton rising and Duncton Stone), the rest of the Roald Dahl, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Bram Stokers Dracula, Making History by Stephen Fry, Five on Finneston Farm by Enid Blyton, My Naughty Little sister by Dorothy Edwards, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, The handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood, Life and Loves of a She-devil by Faye Weldon, The Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett, The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, Charlottes Web by EB White, The Diary of Anne Frank and about a bazillion more.


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