Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I’m now back at Uni, just moved in on Sunday, for my third year. Today is also my 21st birthday!!!! I was 17 when I started this blog and 21 seemed like such a long way away, it’s crazy how fast that came around. I’ll be celebrating with my friends tonight with dinner and movies, so that should be fun. Anyway, Tuesday means a new Top Ten Tuesday from the lovely ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish, and this week, incredibly timely, is a throwback freebie, so since it is my 21st birthday, I thought I’d take today as a chance to look back over the books that have shaped my life in the past 21 years and going to do an extra special bumper list this week of 21 to celebrate. I’m going to separate the list into different stages of my life, so the books I loved as a kid, a pre-teen, a teenager and the books I’ve read and loved in the past couple of years. So here we go, my list of books that have shaped my life thus far:
As a child (age 5-8)
- The Faraway Tree Books-Enid Blyton
I loved The Faraway Tree books as a child, they were probably one of my first forays into a fantasy type world, and whilst her stories were quite simplistic, they were perfect for me as a young child, I could adventure with Fanny, Jo and Beth to the top of the Faraway Tree into a different land in every chapter and it was so exciting to read about this tree with so many different possibilities at the top of it.
2. Shadow The Sheepdog-Enid Blyton
Yes another Enid Blyton book, I really loved her books as a child! This one used to be my dad’s and he read it to me when I was little, it was also one of the first books I read on my own. I read it so much that the copy literally fell apart. I have always been very into animals, so reading about Shadow’s adventures with his owner Johnny was great for me.
3. My Secret Unicorn and Stardust-Linda Chapman
These two Linda Chapman series were among my first forays into fantasy as well. My Secret Unicorn I loved because it combined a horse crazy girl and magic and those were (and remain) two of my favourite things at the time. The Stardust series had normal kids who at night turned into “Stardust spirits” (kind of like fairies) who could do magic and fly and everything and as a kid I loved those things.
4. James Herriot Books-James Herriot
My dad used to read me and my sister James Herriot books when I was a kid and for a long time I thought I wanted to be a vet, in no small part due to those books (until I realised my skills did not lie in the sciences!). My dad would always do the Yorkshire accents of the farmers (as he’s from Yorkshire), which entertained my sister and I to no end, and I just have such fond memories of being read these books as a kid.
5. Matilda-Roald Dahl
This book was one of my absolute favourites as a kid, I related to Matilda so much! Roald Dahl books in general were an absolute staple of my childhood but this one was my particular favourite.
6. Harry Potter-JK Rowling
Obviously this had to be on this list, as the series that really got me into reading and writing, this is basically the series of my childhood. I hope that one day I will be able to inspire someone to write as much as JK Rowling inspired me.
7. Heartland Series-Lauren Brooke
Lauren Brooke’s books I feel are at least partly responsible for my obsession with horses, I devoured them when I was a kid. The stories are relatively simple and can get kind of formulaic after a while, but they are a lot of fun if you are a horsey loving kid.
8. A Series of Unfortunate Events-Lemony Snicket
I remember going to the library every week when I was younger and getting a new ASOUE book each time I went. The series does get a little repetitive but I loved how different it was from anything else I’d read, it’s certainly quite a unique series.
9. The Roman Mysteries-Caroline Lawrence
Again, when I was younger and I went to the library I would get the latest Roman Mysteries book. Books like this series definitely contributed to my choice to study history at Uni, it’s a bit sad actually that I never managed to finish the series, but I think I’d be a little old for it now!
10. Black Beauty-Anna Sewell
Another byproduct of my horse addiction and to date, one of the few classic books I have not only tolerated but absolutely loved!
11. Blind Beauty-KM Peyton
In no way related, although I don’t doubt that KM Peyton was inspired by Anna Sewell’s famous book, this is a beautiful story about a misfit girl and a blind racehorse who form an unlikely team to win the Grand National.
12. Ballet Shoes-Noel Streatfeild
For some reason I had a thing about dance books when I was younger, and this was one of my favourites. On the surface, it’s a story about dance, but it’s so much more than that, it’s a story about choosing your family, growing up and finding your way in the world.
13. Skulduggery Pleasant Series-Derek Landy
This is one of two main series that marked my teen years (although I actually started reading it at age 12), as the books ended at around the same time I was reaching the end of my teens (although he has now started a second series of them!), so there’s a strong association to my teen years with this series, that’s one of the reasons I was so sad when it ended, because it marked not only the end of the series but pretty much the end of my teen years. This series has everything, magic, skeletons, Ireland, a variety of different monsters, and it’s just so hilarious, I would highly recommend!
14. Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus Series-Rick Riordan
Okay, I’m cheating a little here and lumping these two series together, but like Skulduggery Pleasant, this series marked my teen years, I started reading it at age 14, and got through the first five books all in the same year and then read one Heroes of Olympus book every year from the age of 14 to the age of 18. I was already obsessed with Greek mythology before reading these books, but they definitely took the obsession to a new level. By the time the series was over, much like Harry Potter, it felt like I had grown up with these characters and they’re definitely ones that I hold very close to my heart.
15. Noughts and Crosses-Malorie Blackman
I first read this one at 13, and it was among the first YA books that I read as an actual YA, I was probably reading them before I became a teenager, but this was one of the first I read as an actual teen. It was also my first foray into dystopia, a genre that I have come to love very much over the years, although I didn’t know that was the name for the genre at the time! This is also notable as one of the few love stories I’ve actually enjoyed, but it’s so much more than just a love story, it’s a great commentary on race and race relations but written in a way that’s very accessible for teens.
16. My Sister’s Keeper-Jodi Picoult
This is one of the first adult books I read, at 13, and I was surprised I loved it as much as I did as it wasn’t my usual type of book but I fell in love with the story and my signed copy is now one of my most treasured possessions (though it’s not the copy I first read, as I borrowed it from the library the first time I read it. Then I bought my own copy but lent it to my friend who lost it, so she got me a new one, which is the one I had signed).
17. Unwind Dystology-Neal Shusterman
This is one of my favourite series that I’ve read in the past few years, so I had to include it on this list! This was I suppose the last big series of my dystopia phase as I haven’t really read any since 2014/15. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything else like it, it’s dark and creepy but also really powerful and thought provoking and I think that with everything going on in America at the moment with Trump, it would definitely be a timely read for everyone. Seriously guys, I cannot push this book on you hard enough!
18. The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater
This series is one of the ones that marks my late teens, as I started reading it when I was in Year 11, I think, so about 16 and the last book came out last year, just before I turned twenty, so I suppose it kind of bookended the last few years of my teens. I wasn’t actually that keen on this series at first, I thought it was so strange when I first started reading it, but it’s that exact thing that makes it so appealing. Nowhere else will you read about dead welsh kings, psychics, magic and one of the best friendship groups in YA.
19. Throne of Glass-Sarah J Maas
Okay, so this has gone through to my early twenties, but I did start this series when I was 17 so I’m going to count it here. If JK Rowling was one of my biggest writing inspirations when I was a child, then Sarah J Maas is definitely the one of my teen years/early twenties. I find it so amazing that this story she wrote at 16, she actually managed to get published and turned into this huge bestselling series, it makes me believe that I may actually be able to do it one day too. Plus, ya know, magic, dragon, royalty, queens, evil demons, fighting, this series has all the elements to make it an Jo fave!
20. The Book Thief-Markus Zusak
This is one of my absolute favourite books, it’s such a beautiful and tragic story, and in amongst the war and death and tragedy, Liesel’s love of books just leaps off the page. I love these kinds of war stories, when the focus isn’t on the big events, it’s on the everyday lives of the people from that time because that’s what history is all about after all, the people. Using Death as the narrator as well was an inspired choice, even if it was a little strange at first!
21. Shades of Magic Trilogy-VE Schwab
I started this series the summer after my first year of Uni, and was pretty much addicted from the first line, honestly. It has everything I love, magic, pirates, royalty, fight scenes, sass, shippable romances (I may tire of romance but when a couple is truly shippable, I cannot resist), brilliant world-building, I mean I could go on and on all day about how much I love this series. VE Schwab is such an inspiration to me, I wish I could write as well as she does. Her tweets are so funny and honest as well, as a young writer, she is my favourite author to follow on Twitter, she offers such great advice and is so honest about her experiences, it’s wonderful to see.
Honourable Mentions: The Hunger Games, The Bone Season Series, Six of Crows, Between Shades of Grey, Code Name Verity, Dangerous Girls, Timekeeper, Charlotte’s Web, The Storyteller, The Pact, Plain Truth, Nineteen Minutes, Animal Ark, Puppy Patrol, Thirteen Reasons Why, Artemis Fowl
So there we go, that’s my bumper size birthday edition TTT! Have you read any of these books? What books do you feel have shaped your life? Let me know in the comments!
Next week’s TTT topic is the dreaded TBR topic, so you guys get to see which books I’m going to try and probably fail to read this Autumn! In the meantime, I’m hoping to do a discussion post this week talking about the Books that Made Me, so quite similar to this post, but I’ll be talking about some of these books and authors in more detail and potentially some other books as well as I’ve been inspired by so many books. I also finished Glass Sword on Sunday, so I’ll hopefully have a review of that up very soon (I am back at Uni now though, so bear with me if I’m a little slower posting over the next few weeks)!