Books: A book timeline of my life, 27 memorable books for 27 years.

I think after my last blog post it’s safe to say that it’s no real secret that I love books, they are the repositories of knowledge, keepers of stories and doorways to other worlds beyond this one. Here are 27 books from my 27 years on this planet, that have influenced me during my life. Some of the books are not fully described more so about how they influenced me and what I thought of them. I have linked each title to a resource where you can learn more.

1. Spot the Dog – Eric Hill

This was one of the first books I starting reading when I was just a little imp, but I loved them. The idea of trying to find a dog and lifting up a tab in the page to see if he was there, was very simple, yet appealed and created that curiosity in me that is never satisfied. I am always hungry for new knowledge, curious as to how things work and why things are the way they are, and I believe it all started with this book

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

This story has captured the imaginations of millions of children since 1969. The book, when I read it was very tactile and you could journey with the caterpillar as he ate his way through an assortment of fruits and vegetables until he got sick, and then eventually the fat caterpillar cocooned and turned into a beautiful butterfly. The strong colours and artwork used in the book are particularly distinctive.

3. Peter and Jane – Ladybird

Peter and Jane was a series of school reading books used in schools to teach reading skills. The books weren’t particularly amazing, but I’ll always remember them for their perfect little life and the very 70’s illustrations

4. Meg and Mog – Jan Pieńkowski

Loved Loved Loved Meg and Mog. The stories of a witch and her cat were just lovely. The books were large, colourful and flat, I can remember always folding and bending them to squeeze into my schoolbag

5. Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

An elegantly written and illustrated story about Peter the mischievious rabbit and his friends. I had this book when I was a baby and can remember looking at the pictures and creating my own story because I couldn’t read the words.

6. The BFG – Roald Dahl

This in my opinion is one of Roald Dahl’s best books, the enigmatic story of a gentle giant that plants dreams for children and night is very endearing. The BFG befriends Sophie an orphan and they embark on a great adventure to save England from nightmares and evil giants.

7. James and The Giant Peach – Roald Dahl

Another great classic by Roald Dahl. This was the first book read to us in school. I can remember sitting in class and our teach reading a couple chapters to us each Friday. Every week I couldn’t wait to hear how James  and his insect friends got on in their adventure.

8. The Worst Witch series – Jill Murphy  

The first series of Books I read religiously. Before Harry Potter, there was Mildred Hubble the worst witch. Much like Harry Potter it followed Mildred’s adventures as she was in the witches school. I loved the friendship she had with Maud.

9. Dilly the Dinosaur – Tony Bradman

Dilly the Dinosaur was the first book I actually bought myself, it was also the first book I had that had lots of pages and tiny words,, I felt a bit more grown up when I read it.

10. Sabriel – Garth Nix

Sabriel was one of the first books a I feel in love with during my adolescence, that awkward time between being too old to read a book with pictures but still young enough to get lost in a fantasy world without being labelled an introverted weirdo. Garth Nix tells the story of Sabriel the abhorsen , the young mage fighting necromancers and casting them back to the abyss with her 7 bells. The story is painted so brightly an vividly by Nix you could almost touch, breath, taste and smell the world of Albion. It’s simply amazing.

11. The Dangerous Book for boys – Hal Igguldoen 

I bought this book recently and thought it was just a delight to have. In an age of computers, xbox’s, psps, Iphones, and online games, the craft of the adventurer boy is a dwindling one as each generation comes by. Re capture the art of making paper airplanes; building a go-kart; Learning to tie knots; learn what the seven wonders are, with this book. If I have a boy we’ll definitely be using this book, and not sat on a sofa with a console.

12. Tintin Series – Herge

For me this was my favourite series of books when I was around 9 or 10. My dad would walk my brother and I to the library every week to get a new set of books. I had never heard of TinTin before, but my dad got me involved. The story lines were quite formulaic, the bad guys and henchmen always had black hair and cross eyes. My Favourite character was Cornelius and Thompson an Thompson the twin inspectors.

13. A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams

Stella! Stella for Star!…Oh this was an eye opener for me. My English teacher taught us this in English Literature. I’m not quite sure if I loved the book because of its brilliant symbolism or because my teacher spoke about it with such passion that it was hard not to love it. Tennessee Williams is a master at illustrating some really strong and diverse characters, the almost become strongly concentrated versions of true emotion/passion. The decline of Blanche dubois, the base sexuality of Stanley and the suffering unrequited love of Mitch is almost painful to read, but bloody hell its amazing. The climax to the story is truly tragic, but this novel is a masterpiece in the study of the human condition and its  rich symbolism has more layers than an onion could long for.

14. The Winter’s Tale  – William Shakespeare 

This play tells the story of Hermione & Polixenes and the increasingly paranoid Tyrant King Leontes. If this book was written today it would be like a farcical comedy. A man gets suddenly eaten by a bear, Hermione pretends to be a statue and then comes back to life. Its a strange set of events, but ultimately this book is about the Mental decline of King Leontes who completely and utterly loses the plot, the play moves from his dialogue with other characters in the beginning to more increasingly frantic monologues with himself. He grows suspicious, jealous and untrusting of everyone he knows and loves. The book is also a study in contrast between the natural, pastoral world to the cold, structured kingdom of Bohemia. Takes a bit of reading but its definitely my favourite Shakespeare play.

15. The Watchmen – Alan Moore

One of the few graphic novels to make it into Time’s top 100 novels. This book is a perfect marriage between words and pictures. Follow the trials of dr Manhatten, the Comedian, Rorschach, NightOwl, the Silk Spectre et al. In an alternate reality, society is crumbling and the Watchmen battle an evil that is completely intelligent, clinical and devoid of emotion. Follow this story and explore some deeply philosophic and sociological deconstruction and explore the nature of us, the world and what it’s all about.

16. Labyrinth – Kate Mosse 

A great story told over two lifetimes, this book is almost da Vinci like, except without the obvious plot twists and bland use of language. Kate’s incredible research into the Languedoc region is second to none and she creates a bloodline mystery with startling effect.

17. Veronica Decides to Die – Paulo Coello

A story of Veronica with lost hope, desperation and no love for life or its mediocrity. Follow her journey as she loses all inhibitions and reclaims her zeal for living.  A great book with some touching insights. I read a few other Coello books and much like Mitch Albom, they follow the same pattern and lose their appeal with the more you read. I think Veronica decides to die is his best novel

18. The Templar Revelation – Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince 

This is a special non-fiction book for me, not because what the book says should be taken as Gospel but because it created a real world mystery for me, a tangible possibility to something greater than ourselves. The search for the holy grail, an alternate history to religion and ultimately one of the greatest mysteries of them all, the search for the Holy Grail. Now this book has some amazing hypotheses and I found that something that was slightly possible was used as a corner stone to string together more plausible theories, to which the plausible hypotheses transforms from that to fact as it is rotated, bent and shaped into a stronger version of truth. The writers are true academics and they spent years researching the grail legends much like modern day Indiana Jones’s. This door opened up the doors to another realm of possibility, not only did it teach me to be inquisitive, it also taught me to search for my own meaning, which to this day still goes on. You can’t beat a book that piques your imagination, your intent and your desire to want to know and learn more.

19. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

The only book I was cautioned before I bought it. I watched the movie and know it line by line. My friends and I quote it nearly every day and one line posted on twitter and facebook acts like bat signal to my friends. I thought I was ready to read it, as I brought it to the counter, the shop assistant said… ‘Are you sure about this? Are you sure you want to read this?’ After this line, there was no doubt I was going to read it, but to be fair I didn’t quite know what I just let myself get into. This book is a polished masterpiece. Granted it is about a Genesis, Huey Lewis and The News loving, Armani suit wearing, wagu beef eating, stomach crunching, coke snorting maniac, but it’s so cleverly written and really paints a picture of a very materialistic, fashion following 80’s culture. My favourite technique employed by Ellis is his description of the characters. Not one character is described by their physical features, they are done so only by the labels they wear, an by the combination of  labels and connotations created by them, you can paint a visual in your head that describes the person exactly, almost like the labels become people themselves.

20. Supernatural – Graham Hancock

Another book that is slightly ‘out there’ but its a superb anthropological study into our origins, cultures and shared experiences. Read it and make up your own mind

21. A Brief History of Mathematics – Karl Fink

Just an amazing book on the origin of numbers, their symbolic meaning and how it is ultimately the purest language we have. Love the theory that 0 comes from the indentation left when a pebble is lifted from sand, that simple outline resembles zero. Fascinating. If you want to learn more about numbers, try reading a bit about Kabbalah, it’s another fascinating subject, but something I won’t write about in this article.

22. A brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

I have always been fascinated by religion, mystery, science and the intertwined nature of both. If I read too many books that were about spirituality and religion, I needed to go to the other end of the spectrum and learn about science, quantum physics, string theory, the laws of nature etc (purely on layman’s terms) Stephen Hawking speaks like a priest of Science and his theories have shaped our modern view of the universe today

23. Alice in Wormland – Dorothy Hewitt.

This is a set of poems depicting an alternate Alice in Wonderland story, and it’s dark, murky and very very black, but written with the voice and innocence of a child. It’s an eye opener and difficult in parts, but highly creative and relate-able from an adult perspective. Alice befriend’s Nim, falls pregnant and is locked away for nine months while she grows fat, there’s blood, debasement and undertones of sexuality. I like it for its originality, but don’t think I’ll ever read it again.

24. A History of God – Karen Armstrong

Anyone who wants to know about religion should read this book. Helen Armstrong is a true Scholar and documents the beginning of religion and the birth of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. An insightful comparative study and in a time in which religion is almost a motive or hall pass for tyranny, this book will educate the ignorant to a great degree without prejudice, judgement and superiority.

25. The Code Breakers – David Kahn

Simply me indulging in my need to know the origins of things. This book tracks the 4000 year old history of codes from its simple beginnings like the Caesar Cipher to Moderrn day encryption. I love the part about Kryptos.

26. Man’s Search For Meaning – Victor Frankl 

A hugely powerful piece, this book is the analysis of the human condition, hope and endurance. Victor Frankl documents his time in a nazi concentration camp. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but get it, it’ll move you to your core.

27. Little Children – Tom Perrotta 

An amazing analysis of the urban condition. A study in repressed ambitions, forgotten dreams and social stigma, this book is unashamedly honest, shocking, bold, blunt, and if I’m being honest completely relate-able in parts. We all get stuck at some point in life and become part of the machine, conforming and bending to societal norms. Watch the movie read the book and be challenged.

Here is a Gallery of my 27 books.

Perhaps you read the same books, or fondly remember the children’s books? Feel free to list your books here, it would be great to see your list, and learn about those books that have influenced you and to get some suggestions.



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