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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Books of Your Childhood.

This is a fantastic meme from Michelle Styles for anyone who loves to talk about books, especially the books that captured you when you were a child and are still with you now.

Name at least one book that you read as a child (ie 11 or under) that still exists in your memory as a perfect story. You can say why if you wish, or simply give a list -- your choice. It can be a story that you are now uncomfortable about having loved or were uncomfortable at some point and have now come back to or alternatively just one that you have always loved.

Here is my list:

1. A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. History fascinated me even as a child, as did the idea of stepping back in time. I’ve been hooked on timeslip romance ever since!

2. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I could name just about every Alan Garner book for this list. I was totally hooked on his writing. The combination of adventure, magic and something just a little bit strange and spooky fascinated me. Plus the fact that it was children having these fabulous adventures. I wanted to have adventures like that!

3. Fell Farm Campers by Marjorie Lloyd because I lived in a city and wanted to live somewhere wild and free and for me the Fell Farm books captured a love of the country.

4. The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. Loved, loved, loved this series!

5. Cat Amongst the Pigeons by Agatha Christie. I don't know why this was the first Agatha Christie book that I read. I think I must have picked it up second hand out of curiosity because the title grabbed me. I still have the battered green hardback now. It's an excellent mystery story that led me on to read more Christie, of course, and also writers like Jospehine Tey. I was also intrigued by the hint of romance and the sexy guy from MI5 posing as the gardener - although at the age of eleven I was only vaguely aware of these themes!

6. All the books in the "wives of Henry VIII" series that Coronet brought out in a gold box. My grandmother had the set and I read my way through them. History, romance and a few executions... What more could you ask for?

What are the books of your childhood?


Michelle Styles said...

Thanks for doing this.
I must read the Alison Utley to see if I read it as a child.
My daughter had a big thing on Silver Brumby at one point. I can remember reading it aloud to her and really enjoying it.

Have you ever written a timeslip? If not, why not.

Judy Astley said...

For me it's Wish For a Pony by Monica Edwards, and all her other books in that series too.

I also remember that every time I was in bed with tonsillitis (quite often, it seems, looking back!) I re-read Anne of Green Gables. Both those books took me to a rural place with so much freedom, so different from existence in the dull old borough of Hounslow.

Alison said...

Everything Narnia, first and foremost,then Rosemary Sutcliff The Eagle of the Ninth and Sword at Sunset.

Lesley Cookman said...

I LOVE the Romney Marsh books. The first I read was the second in the series, Summer of the Great Secret, which I read and re-read. Still one of my favourites from the series. The Little White Horse, Swish of the Curtain and I Capture the Castle all have about equal billing with those, followed by the Malcolm Saville books, Three Men in a Boat, Ngaio Marsh's, Carter Dickson's, John Dickson Carr's and Thorne Smith's all of which were favourites of my parents, who allowed me to read their collection from about 9 years old.
I still have them all.

Nicola Cornick said...

Ooh, thank you all for sharing!

Michelle, thank you for setting the meme going - it's fascinating to hear about other people's childhood books. I've written one timeslip short story when I was in my teens. It's something I would LOVE to write one day.

Judy, your comments about Anne of Green Gables mirrored my feeling of living in Leeds and wishing that I was in the Lake District. So interesting to see us hankering after another world that's such a contrast to our urban life!

Nicola Cornick said...

Alison, did you love the entire Narnai series? My interest waned after about book 3 I think. Not sure why. Perhaps I should give the later books another go. Oh and The Eagle of the Ninth, which I know we discussed on here before, is another of the all time greats.

What I like about this is that I'm picking up on stuff I haven't read before but will definitely look out for, like the Romney Marsh books. Thank you, Lesley!

I Capture the Castle is another book that should be on my list too. Fabulous!

margaret blake said...

My favorite book was Little Women, being an only child I was fascinated by this family of girls.

Incidentally both my grandsons were born in Concord, Mass, where Louisa May Alcott hails from.

Excuse spelling, still in Florida!

Jenny Brown said...

Mara Daughter of the Nile. I can't remember WHY I loved it, only that it was my very favorite book at age 11.

Next came The Outcast and Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

Nicola Cornick said...

Interesting, Margaret. Yes, anything with siblings fascinated me too as an "only."

I've never heard of Mara Daughter of the Nile, Jenny, but it sounds rather intriguing1

SusannaKearsley said...

Oh, so difficult to choose...

These Happy Golden Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. One of my first tastes of romance, actually. I'd read the whole series, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods, but this was the one that made me sigh.

Anne of Green Gables -- and not just because I'm Canadian, but because it was my mother's favourite, and being a dreamer myself I found much to relate to in Anne Shirley's character.

Little Women, because I wanted to be Jo.

The Secret Garden, because it was such a wonderful story and it made me cry.

And Beautiful Joe, by Marshall Saunders -- a Black-Beautyesque book about a dog's life told in the first person. I used to re-read and re-read it.

Kate Allan said...

Alison Utley wrote the Little Grey Rabbit books and I loved those. I've never read her books for older children though.

My favourites as a ten year old were Enid Blyton's Adventure series, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece, Arther Ransome and the Laura Ingles Wilder books.

Nicola Cornick said...

Am having such a lovely time reliving all these books through everyone's comments and learning about some new books to try as well. Susanna, The Secret Garden still makes me cry too! And I loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. Kate, another Rosemary Sutcliff fan! She really conjured up such fabulous atmospheric backgrounds.

Tess said...

Don't even know where to start - there are so many:

Anne of Green Gables
The School at the Chalet
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Secret Garden
Caddie Woodlawn

Those are just a few :)

Nicola Cornick said...

I like the sound of the Witch of Blackbird Pond and Caddie Woodlawn, Tess. Both of those are new to me and I'm going to look them up.

Pia said...

For me it was anything by Enid Blyton - I still have all 21 of the Famous Five books (used to receive at least one as a present every birthday/Christmas) and loved them!

Jane Howard said...

As a child I was ALWAYS reading! I went to the library three times a week with my friend Louise and we changed our books. In junior school I was completely entranced by Enid Blyton, the Mallory Towers and St Clare's books were good but my very favourite were the Five Find Outers and Dog - I read and re-read them and in time read them to my children who also loved them. As soon as I was an adult I bought a scottie dog like Buster and we have always had one in the family ever since! AS I got a little bit older I liked Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton books. I was always fascinated by the United States because I had a very glamorous Auntie who lived there who had been a GI bride. Judy Bolton was a young girl who grew up and married her childhood sweetheart who was an FBI agent - they were romantic and thrilling and I used to read them over and over. I also loved the Blue Door Theatre Company books, Cherry Ames stories and all the Mabel Esther Allan books.When I got into my teens I loved Malcolm Saville's Witchend stories - I wanted David and Peter (Peter was a girl!) to "get off" together and was so thrilled when they did in Not Scarlett but Gold! I am always on the look out for old favourite books from my childhood and my 12 year old daughter loves to read them. Although she loves Twilight and Harry Potter she also loves Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and she could go on Mastermind about the Five Find-outers! When I was about 15 I discovered Barbara Cartland and then Georgette Heyer and Jean Plaidy. I have copies of alot of my childhood favourite books and when I re-read them they give me the same feelings that I had when I read them as a child - I remember where I was when I read each one and if I close my eyes it is though I am back there - it is so weird!

Rhiannon Paine said...

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace is still my favorite set of books. Lovelace was born in Mankato, Minnesota, in 1892, and the 10 books in the series (which has many ardent fans) are based on her life. I also loved the two Alice books by Lewis Carroll, Black Beauty, The Story of Ferdinand, the Trixie Belden books, and so many others. Hmm, I think I need to blog about this too! Thanks for this post, Nicola.

Beth Elliott said...

my first memories of reading are Alison Uttley's Little Grey Rabbit books. Then lots of Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome, any version of Robin Hood and King Arthur stories, and my great favourite was 'The Hills of Varna' by Geoffrey Trease. Also loved the 'He went with...series about great explorers [and thought of the Vasco da Gama one while visiting Lisbon recently.

Alison Stuart said...

Nicola, it looks like we had similar tastes! For me, though, the ultimate story teller was Rosemary Sutcliff - Eagle of the Ninth, Simon and Rider of the White Horse. I loved the Alan Garner books too - paranormal before paranormal was "in"! I also adored the Ronald Welch series about the Carey family. I would love to turn my Seven Ways/Thornton family books into a similar series but just have to find a publisher who is interested!!! Alison

Nicola Cornick said...

Pia, Jane, yes the Enid Blyton books were a must. And I'd forgotten about Nancy Drew too. I loved those, although I may have been a bit older when I read them.

Rhiannon, I do hope you blog about your books too. I love reading other people's lists. The overlap is fascinating and also the new stuff too.

Nicola Cornick said...

Beth, I'd forgotten all about Geoffrey Trease! I had no idea he had written so many books until I looked up his bibliography, nor that he was writing until relatively recently.

Alison, I'm thrilled to find another Alan Garner fan. His books were so spooky. They have stayed with me so vividly that even now when I'm out walking on the Downs at sunset I half-expect the four horsemen who featured in the Moon of Gomrath to appear out of the mound of Wayland's Smithy!

Kate Hardy said...

Fantastic list, Nicola - and I was thrilled to see such a crossover with my own list! I read 'A Traveller in Time' fairly recently (thanks to my best friend) and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So what's your favourite timeslip? I think mine is probably still Lady of Hay (and although I have a fair few of Erskine's books, this is the one that really stayed with me).

Nicola Cornick said...

Lady of Hay is a wonderful book, isn't it, Kate. It made a huge impression on me too, probably because it was the first timeslip book I read and it was so well written. I love Barbara Erskine's dual time period books as well, and Kate Harrison's.

Then there's Susanna Kearsley's wonderful books (waves to Susanna!) And both Margaret James and Melinda Hammond have written timeslip books I've loved too.

My other favourite is Ferney by James Long. I could not put that book down - even when I was filling the car with petrol I was sneaking in a few pages! It is one of my all time best books. Totally riveting and also very moving, I thought.

Any other recommendations? Perhaps I'll have to blog about timeslip books separately.

Sarah Morgan said...

Nicola, I had that Henry VIII gold box too! What a coincidence. And I loved the Fell Farm books. And Just so stories, Rudyard Kipling, particularly Rikki Tikki Tavi which is still a favourite. I read loads of horse books, can't remember many of them but there was one set in Wyoming that I adored. Then I discovered Jane Eyre....

Nicola Cornick said...

Thrilled to hear that you had the Henry VIII gold box too, Sarah! That series was great, and so romantic!

Leah Marie Brown said...

As I wrote in a recent blog entry, as a child I read a biography about Marie Antoinette that inspired a life-long devotion for the tragic queen.

I also loved Mr. Shaw's Ship Shape Shoe Shop (when I was younger) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! The idea of stepping through a wardrobe into a magical world where you could be the greatest (or worst) version of youerself...pure fantasy.

Nicola Cornick said...

Leah, I totally agree - stepping through a wardrobe into a fantasy world is a fabulous idea. Now I must go and read your blog about Marie Antoinette. That sounds like another great blog post - historical figures who have inspired us!