Monday, March 30, 2009

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

[Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, 7 August 1991]

Books from your childhood, if you were a reader, nestle in your memory like uncut diamonds. You often don't remember them unless prompted. For me:
  • The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie - May Gibbs. A book that has moved house with me. I still look at banksia trees and imagine them to be the evil Banksia Men. A gumnut evokes images of chubby cherubs scantily clad in loin cloths made of gum leaves.
  • The Folk of the Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton. Who could forget pop biscuits and google buns? Moonface, Mister Watzisname, Silky, and the Saucepan Man? The Land of Take-What-You-Want, the Land of Dame Slap, the Land of Topsy-Turvy, the Land of Spells, the Land of Goodies, the Land of Dreams and the glorious Land of Birthdays.
  • Malory Towers and St Clare's - Enid Blyton again. The lure of boarding school when you were 8 years old was inescapable. Midnight feasts, lacrosse, and sprained ankles...
  • Anything, anything at all, by Roald Dahl. My favourite? Matilda. And I blame him for my sweet tooth, thanks to the visions inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Books can be dangerous.

The best ones should be labeled "This could change your life."

For me, Looking for Alibrandi (Marlina Marchetta) was a book that retains such special significance.

Snow Falling on Cedars (David Gutterson) was a book that, at the time in my life when I first read it, astounded me. I also think that the film depiction of the novel was one of the best I've seen.

Shantaram (Gregory Roberts) gripped me from start to finish. I read it while travelling through India with two girlfriends. All three of us read it in India, looking up from the pages out into the country we were backpacking through. Would it have made such an impression had I read it in Australia? Without a doubt. It is also a book that I have given to male friends of mine (who generally don't read fiction) who have read it and enjoyed it.

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it...

This saddens me. What about the "brain cheese" (not my term, but one that I think aptly applies) of Marian Keyes? John Grisham? Do I have to hide my guilty pleasures beneath a Camus book simply to avoid the judgmental eyes of my fellow train passengers?

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